Hunter Henry caught six touchdowns on the very disappointing Patriots' 2023 offense, two more than anyone else. Only six players caught scoring passes in 2023; without Henry’s number, there were just ten touchdown catches! Henry’s contract runs out in March, and while the Patriots would love to keep him, there’s a salary cap to be navigated. At 29 years old, Henry may be looking for a new challenge.
What about the 2024 draft class, then? Well, everyone wants Brock Bowers. And he might even be a top-10 pick. But if you can spend that sort of draft capital on a tight end, your team must already be in a pretty good place. Bowers is the best athlete in the class, but he’s a bit small for the Patriots.
Pass-catching tight ends are the new shifty slot receivers. They are very in vogue at the moment. But it’s tough to build a successful offense around a pass-catching tight end. After all, the Patriots had Mike Gesicki last season. And he had his second consecutive disappointing season after Mike McDaniel virtually refused to use him in Miami.
What the Patriots need is a more complete package. A run blocker who can catch passes over the middle or on short routes. Kind of like Pharoah Brown, but young. They don’t even have to be the finished product when they arrive. They just need to have the raw materials that the coaches can build a reliable tight end with.
New Patriots’ offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt comes from Cleveland, where he’s been working with David Njoku since 2020. Incidentally, Bowers is the same size as Njoku, but they are not the same. Bowers is more comparable with Dalton Kincaid, who was chosen with the 25th pick last season (but there is no Sam LaPorta).
Baylor Cupp – Texas Tech
He’s massive and can run fast, Treylon Burks fast (that’s fast for a tight end by the way). Cupp was the number 1 ranked tight end coming out of high school. He went to Texas A&M for two years, but injuries prevented him from playing a single game. He transferred to Texas Tech, where he played 24 games in the following two seasons.
But that’s not all that important. The important part is that he’s 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 245 lbs., so he’s slightly taller than Henry but 13 lbs. lighter. Playing-wise, he’s very Henry-esque. Henry ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash back in the day. Cupp has run it in 4.55! And Cupp can block really well. He would be a perfect replacement, maybe even an upgrade from Henry’s three years of solid play.