Not only did the New England Patriots address their tight end woes by signing Jonnu Smith to a lucrative contract, but they have also now signed former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry. While the Chargers shot back by signing Jared Cook to a one-year deal, he is not a long-term replacement for the Bolts.
Henry is coming off of his fifth season in the NFL, all of which were spent with the Chargers. While Henry has a bit of an injury history he still is considered one of the better tight ends in the league and many thought the Chargers would like to keep him around to build on the chemistry he built with Justin Herbert.
With Henry now headed to New England, the Chargers will need to replace the production and snaps that Henry accounted for. In his four seasons of play (missed 2018 due to injury) Henry accounted for 196 catches, 2,322 yards, and 21 total touchdowns. While the production was steady over the course of Henry’s career he has never played a full season because of injury.
What is left for Chargers in the tight end room?
Letting Hunter Henry walk in free agency was likely a tough pill to swallow for the Los Angeles front office but his production can be replaced and I’m sure the front office brass will hope for a healthier and more reliable player. As of now the only tight ends on the roster are Gabe Nabers, Donald Parham, and Cook; not exactly comforting if you’re Justin Herbert.
Drafting a tight end was likely already high on the list of team needs but with Henry for sure not returning it’s even more of a need than before. I don’t foresee the Chargers taking a tight end in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft but crazier things have happened. Let’s take a look at some options in each phase of the draft for potential Hunter Henry replacements.