Resign or Let Walk: Hunter Henry
By: Adam Sadigh
This off-season, the Chargers will be tasked with deciding whether or not to resign rising star tight end Hunter Henry. In this article, I will be weighing the pros and cons of resigning Henry and give my opinion on whether or not it would be worthwhile for the team to invest in resigning him.
I’ll start with the pros:
When on the field, Henry is a very reliable pass catcher as well as a willing run blocker. Throughout his first 35 starts (all his 4 years under contract), he has 1,709 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Although those aren’t the numbers you think of when you think star tight end (ex. Kittle and Kelce having multiple 1,000 yard seasons), Henry is the 4th receiving option behind Allen, Williams, and Ekeler. That means that unlike Kelce and Kittle, far less throws come Henry’s way. In fact, Henry receives around half the targets Kelce and Kittle receive. With more targets, Henry definitely has the potential to put up huge numbers. The career total stats are also skewed due to the fact that he played second fiddle to Antonio Gates for the first couple of years.
The next pro works in his favor more than it does in the Chargers’. Behind Henry, is Virgil Green. Although Green is a great run blocker, catching the ball is his pitfall. There is not a single reliable option at tight end to receive other than Henry. The Chargers already lack a 3rd option at receivers, therefore they cannot stand to lose their number
1 option at tight end.
This last pro concerns the draft. If the Chargers were to let Henry walk, they would surely have to take a tight end in the draft. With needs at offensive tackle, guard, wide receiver, defensive tackle, corner, and possibly running back, and quarterback, the Chargers do not have enough draft capital (7 picks, 1 in each round) to address all these positions. Now add in tight end, and the Chargers have to do a lot of big spending in free agency anyways. So why not just sign Henry?
Obviously this one was going to appear on here. He’s had his fair share of injury issues. In 2017, Henry lacerated his kidney vs the Jets in week 14 and was shut down for the rest of the season. In 2018, Henry missed the whole regular season with a torn ACL. He did however come back to play in the second round of the playoffs, but made almost no impact. This season, he fractured his knee in week 1 against the Colts. Although this happened in the middle of the game, he went on to play the rest of the game. He was shut down for 4 games before he came back week 6 against the Steelers (catching 8 passes for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns). Safe to say he was feeling great after his recovery. His fracture and laceration doesn’t lead me to believe that he is injury prone. There are not a lot of things you can do in a contact sport to avoid broken bones. However, tears are a different story. If Henry had sustained multiple injuries to his ACL or other ligaments or muscles, this would lead me to be concerned about his ability to stay healthy. These injuries can be prevented with proper stretching, nutrition, and form. This strikes me less as a Jason Verrett situation and more of a Keenan Allen situation.
The next con is cost. Henry is likely going to demand a market value contract. He is coveted by many playoff caliber teams such as the Patriots. It’s hard to imagine Henry turning down a Gronkowski like roll in the Patriots offense over a 4th option roll on the Chargers offense. That is, unless the Chargers outbid every other team for him. This can get extremely pricey and propel Henry near the top of the tight end market.
I’ve made it clear that I don’t believe Henry is injury prone. I also believe that on a team possibly getting ready for a new quarterback, all firepower is needed to make as smooth of a transition as necessary. Tight end is not a position the Chargers should be looking for in the draft with all their other needs. Although the price may be hefty, it would be wise for the Chargers to bet on a sure thing rather than roll the dice on a tight end in the draft. I also believe we have yet to see the best of Hunter Henry.