After a rough season in which their starting tight end was the 39-year-old Benjamin Watson, the Patriots could find sign a suitable tight end for the 2020 season. There will be a number of top-tier tight ends on the market in free agency, with Eric Ebron and Austin Hooper among them.
However, the 25-year-old Hunter Henry may be at the top of that list. The Los Angeles Chargers tight end will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Making matters even better, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert cites the Patriots as an obvious team of interest for the starting tight end.
“Henry returned to full strength after a torn ACL cost him the 2018 season, catching 55 passes for 652 yards — both career-highs,” Seifert wrote. “The dynamic role of tight ends in today’s offenses suggests he will be highly sought-after if he reaches the market. The Patriots, in particular, seem like an obvious team of interest.”
Henry has served as the Chargers’ starting tight end for the past four seasons. In 41 appearances and 35 starts, Henry has career statistics of 136 receptions for 1,709 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-5 tight end is also best known for replacing Antonio Gates — the legendary tight end who is the career leader in touchdown receptions for all tight ends in NFL history. Not a shabby accomplishment.
Patriots Need a Tight End For 2020 Season
Patriots tight ends combined for just 36 receptions for 418 yards and just two touchdowns. New England went through Watson, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse throughout the season. Long story short, they couldn’t come anywhere close to replicating Gronkowski’s type of numbers.
Even in Gronkowski’s down year — he played just 13 games in 2018 — he produced 47 receptions for 682 yards and three touchdowns. Those are better numbers than the Patriots’ three tight ends combined for last season.
Signing a tight end the caliber of Henry could entice Tom Brady to return for the 2020 season.
Tom Brady’s Future
No one seems to know the future of the six-time Super Bowl champion. After previously indicating following the team’s postseason loss to the Tennessee Titans that he was likely to return next season, Brady has since backtracked on his comments.
Making matters more concerning for Patriots fans are the recent reports that Brady has moved to his new Connecticut home and that him and his wife, Gisele, have cleaned out their suite at Gillette Stadium.
As Dan Shulman of Heavy cites:
Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen put their Brookline, Massachusetts home on the market during the summer with a current asking price of $33 million. They had purchased the Greenwich home with the purpose of moving in following the season in New England. Though Brady will remain in the region, he is now much closer to New York than Foxborough and Boston where his career began.
Brady has yet to make a decision regarding whether or not he’ll return for the 2020 season. As painful as Brady’s departure would be for New England fans, it would be even worse if he concluded his career with another NFL team.
We have a long way to go before free agency, but the Patriots’ offseason and how they approach things all depends upon Brady’s important decision.