The off-season is officially upon us along with a clean slate. Time to get to work as the new coaching staff comes in. While everyone is looking forward to the draft and free agency, the first order of business is re-signing our own free agents. We all have an idea of who we like/dislike/who is worth holding onto long term etc etc. With a whole new coaching staff under way it could be a little tougher to try and predict who the new leadership wants to keep around or not.
In the annual “resign him or let him walk” series i will go over pros and con’s along with taking into consideration the new coaching staff.
When looking at the decisions to bring players on expiring contracts back or not, there really is 3 categories. The ones that are easy decisions to bring back, tough decisions that could go either way, and easy decisions to let the walk. When it come to Hunter Henry it just so happens to be one of the easiest decisions of the off season. At just 26 years of age Henry is approaching his prime. The sure handed tight end seems to have one of the closest relationships with quarterback Justin Herbert and seeing as there will be so many new faces this year (coaching staff) you want Herbert to have as much continuity as possible. Henry finished with 613 yards which equals out to be his second highest of his career thus far. While that may not seem like an eye popping number, its enough to rank as the 8th highest total of all tight ends. It’s also of note that he averaged 10.2 yards per reception. Anytime a player can average a first down every catch you can count me in.
Henry also doesn’t get enough credit for his run blocking. While his run blocking grade was down a bit this year according to Pro Football Focus (68.8), that is likely something that will improve as the line around him gets better. The only real knock on Henry would be his lack of elite speed. I can see how that would be trouble down the stretch of his career but shouldn’t play a factor here considering his age still. Even if the team were to cough up a 3-5 year contract its not something I would worry about during that time period. Especially when you consider his route running ability. In fact the only real knock on him is his lack of elite speed. When you have players like Waller on the Raiders shining through like he did this season it makes people want to draft a similar prospect like Kyle Pitts from Florida. While some extra weapons is always a nice thought, the first priority should be protecting a young quarterback. The idea of Hunter Henry and Donald Parham sticking as a duo at the tight end position seems like they could possibly be set at the position for years to come. This is of course pending physical health and Parham’s development.
Spotrac.com predicts that the market value for Henry will be a 4 year deal at about 10.9 million a year, making him the 3rd highest paid tight end. Just $400,000 over Austin Hooper per year and 3.4 million less than Travis Kelce.
When considering that the market value for such a tight end could be higher in the next 2-3 year’s I would say its a deal worth taking. Especially when you consider that with Herbert at quarterback its possible we haven’t seen the best Hunter Henry yet.