After five seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, TE Hunter Henry begins the process of finding a new landing spot in NFL free agency. Due to the tight end market being a barren wasteland, Hunter Henry will have no problem finding a potential suitor to take his talents to for 2021 and beyond.
As he enters free agency, Hunter Henry has been one of the better TEs in the NFL since entering the league
Hunter Henry has been one of the better tight end options for four of those seasons through his five-year career. He missed the 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL during OTA’s in the lead-up to camp. His 6’5″ frame and athletic prowess made him one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets and Justin Herbert’s as well.
Over his four seasons (55 games), Henry caught 196 of his 284 targets for 2,322 yards and 21 touchdowns. In 2020, he set a career-high with 93 targets and 60 receptions with Herbert under center.
We know how desolate the tight end landscape is, but Hunter Henry has been one of the few constant performers in recent years. The only knock has been staying on the field as he has never played a full 16-game season. With that being said, Hunter Henry brings a massive upside and will be the top TE target entering free agency. There is little doubt he will have no issue finding a new landing spot to call home.
Will a reduced salary cap impact the free-agent TEs like Hunter Henry pursuing new landing spots in 2021?
Due to lost revenue of the 2020 season, the NFL salary cap took a massive hit. While it has yet to be nailed down, current estimations have the salary cap at around the $185.5 million range. Earlier in the year, the NFL and NFLPA agreed on a floor of $180 million, but there is a chance we see it creep close to $190 million.
Because of the loss of revenue and lower salary cap, teams will have to make difficult decisions regarding veterans.
When it comes to tight ends, this could have considerable implications, especially for Hunter Henry, who will likely receive the class’s largest contract. But this won’t keep teams from calling Hunter Henry, hoping to land him, and locking up a TE1 on their roster.
As he hits free agency, where are some potential landing spots for TE Hunter Henry in 2021 as he leaves the Chargers?
The New England Patriots make sense as a potential landing spot for Hunter Henry in free agency
In saying this, I am not trying to imply that New England is some incredible landing spot for tight ends based on Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is an all-time great, and it was a symbiotic relationship. It’s not necessarily just the Patriots being the ultimate landing spot for any TE who walks in the door.
The issue for the Patriots is they are an offense devoid of any talent. Last year, the Patriots drafted two tight ends, and 97% of football fans outside of Boston can’t even name them.
Sitting with the third-most cap space ($72.619 million), the offense needs a complete overhaul. The question then becomes, would Bill Belichick be willing to get into a bidding war to acquire former Chargers TE Hunter Henry in free agency?
If TE Hunter Henry chose the Buffalo Bills as a landing spot, this could push them over the top
The Buffalo Bills have firmly established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the NFL. QB Josh Allen has emerged into one of the best QBs, and his connection with Stefon Diggs is a match made in football heaven. One spot where they could use an upgrade, however, is at tight end.
Dawson Knox has been serviceable but not a difference-maker. Over his two seasons, Knox has caught 52 of 94 targets for 676 yards and 5 touchdowns. Bringing in Hunter Henry would allow Sean McDermott to get creative with 12-personnel, giving the offense more flexibility.
The Bills’ main hurdle being a landing spot for Hunter Henry will be cap space for Buffalo. According to Spotrac, they are an estimated $4.596 million under the cap. Hunter Henry, on the other hand, carries an estimated market value of $10.9 million on a four-year, $43.778 million contract.
Could the Packers add former-Chargers TE Hunter Henry in free agency?
There was this whole narrative that Aaron Rodgers does not use tight ends coming into 2020. That was false. It was the talent on the team rather than a blindspot to the position. We saw this last year as Robert Tonyan exploded onto the scene, scoring 11 touchdowns. Interestingly enough, he is also a tight end searching for a new landing spot in free agency.
The combination of Henry and Davante Adams in the red zone is a scary thought for the NFC North.
The Arizona Cardinals are an under-the-radar landing spot for Hunter Henry but have a massive need
After signing J.J. Watt, it appears the Arizona Cardinals are going all-in. If that is the case, giving Kyler Murray a reliable tight end would be a prudent move by the organization.
In 2020, the trio of Dan Arnold, Darrell Daniels, and Maxx Williams, combined for 66 targets, 52 receptions, 632 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Hunter Henry could step in on Day 1 and be a massive upgrade for a team with an already dangerous offense. Also, Dan Arnold is going to be a free agent in 2021.
It is also unlikely that Larry Fitzgerald will come back for the 2021 season. If the Cardinals are the potential landing spot for Hunter Henry, he could alleviate the loss of Fitz’s presence over the middle.
The former-Chargers TE could choose the Indianapolis Colts in free agency as a landing spot?
The Colts need to surround Carson Wentz with more weapons for him to be successful in Indianapolis. Hunter Henry fits what head coach Frank Reich wants in a tight end. He is an explosive player for his size who can win vertically and win in the red zone.
Both Mo-Alie Cox and Trey Burton are slated to hit the open market, leaving Jack Doyle on the roster. Indianapolis has the cap space at $50.572 million to make a deal happen with free agent Hunter Henry.
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