The rumored price tag for TE Hunter Henry suggests the Patriots should look elsewhere in free agency.
The New England Patriots face an enormously important offseason, and we would expect that finding a new quarterback will come first on the priority list. In terms of other pressing needs, most fans would agree that they could prove to benefit from bolstering the defensive end, wide receiver, tight end, and potentially linebacker positions.
Fortunately for them, there will be at least a handful of intriguing options at each spot hitting the open market. Keeping things focused on tight end, which was a non-factor in the Patriots’ offense this season, almost everybody has tabbed Hunter Henry as their ideal target, and for the most part we were in lockstep with that opinion.
However, when you take a gander at his rumored price tag, you’ll come to the realization that they would probably be better off pursuing alternative options. According to ESPN insider Mike Reiss, the Chargers star will cost in the range of $14 to $15 million per year.
If the Patriots had as much money as they’re projected to have once the salary cap resets ($58.69 million, according to Spotrac), and if tight end was one of just two positions they needed to improve upon, we would obviously be in favor of giving Henry whatever he wanted.
However, that simply isn’t the case, and throwing the bank at a TE who isn’t exactly that good, would be a serious oversight. Henry is a very good all-around tight end, but giving him top-tier money instead of pursuing a cheaper option — like Jonnu Smith, Robert Tonyan or Jared Cook — seems like the wrong decision.
It’s also worth noting that Henry has a concerning injury history. The former second-round pick missed the entirety of 2018 with a torn ACL and has shockingly yet to play a full 16-game slate across his other four seasons in the league.
Assuming his rumored price is accurate, is that really somebody you want to make one of the highest-paid players at this position? No way. An annual earning between $14 and $15 million would make Henry the third-wealthiest tight end behind the likes of George Kittle and Travis Kelce, both of whom are perennial All-Pro selections.
We’re high on what the future holds on Henry, but the Patriots would simply be better off searching elsewhere in free agency given how many other positions they need to address.