Los Angeles Chargers Hunter Henry is the top free agent tight end on the market. Alongside star receiver Keenan Allen, Henry proved to be a consistent pass catcher and blocker. Since his rookie year in 2016, Henry improved his reception rate every season. Despite the large frame and sticky hands, there is more to Henry that meets the eye.
Hunter Henry should be a priority for the Chargers in NFL Free Agency .Hunter Henry Free Agent
When available, Henry provided the Chargers’ offense with a fierce mindset that helped motivate the players. Henry is a leader on and off the field.
Henry is a top-10 tight end in the league, and his value is only getting higher. The Chargers gave the former 2016 second-round pick a franchise tag ahead of the 2020 season, at $10.6M, but will they follow the same method again? The Chargers should do whatever is possible to ensure that Henry is signed through the 2021 season. With other looming free agents to be, the Bolts can’t afford to lose out on Henry. One thing is for certain, there will be plenty of other teams interested in 6-foot-5 tight end.
Henry’s contract has a projected market value at just under $11M. With over $23M to spend, that is affordable for the Chargers to try and sign him to a multi-year deal, close to $11M per season. That would allow the Bolts to use their franchise tag on a cheaper option. Henry’s value compares to current Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper, who signed a four-year, $42M deal ahead of the 2020 season.
In 14 games in 2020, Henry caught 60 passes for 613 yards and four touchdowns. He missed two games due to COVID-19 protocols, but has shown to be available after missing all the 2018 season (torn ACL). His numbers are increasing each year, and if he does indeed reunite with 2020 Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert, then it is possible Henry could lead the team in touchdown receptions.
With Allen being among the top receivers in the NFL, Henry won’t ever be the team’s No. 1 option on the field. Although, he doesn’t need to be the No. 1 target in order to be successful. Henry’s blocking capability is what allows him to be a three-down TE, meaning he can contribute on the field during any play. Henry finds himself open quite a bit, especially in the red zone.
What if the Chargers don’t give Henry a contract?
The Chargers have until March 9 to franchise tag Henry for the second season in a row, if needed. But again, that wouldn’t be the smart decision, as that would mean other free agents will have to find a new home. The current backup tight ends are Donald Parham Jr. and Stephen Anderson—neither have much playing experience. If Henry does decide to leave, then that could change how the Chargers draft in April, as well as how they approach other free agent tight ends.
If Henry is not tagged by March 9, then he officially becomes a free agent and the Chargers will lose control over him. That won’t be the end of the line for LA, but it could mean that Henry finds a new home or a higher contract offer.
Another thing to keep in mind is Henry’s relationship with Herbert. They have become “bros” over this past year, so that could be a factor when deciding on his future. Plus, you can’t go wrong catching from one of the best young arms in the league.