Major Patriots, Bears Free-Agent Target Taken off Market

Free-Agent TE

Getty The LA Chargers have placed the franchise tag on Hunter Henry

The Los Angeles Chargers have franchise tagged free-agent tight end, Hunter Henry, removing him from the target list of teams like the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and more.

 

Patriots and Bears Had Interest in Henry

It’s no secret both the Pats and Bears have a need at tight end and Henry was considered one of the best free agents available at the position with perhaps the Atlanta Falcons’ Austin Hooper being the only one rated ahead of him.

Henry, 25, rebounded from an injury-plagued 2018 season that saw him miss all 16 games. In 2019, Henry registered career highs in receptions (55) and receiving yards (652), and he also caught five TD passes.

He compiled those totals in just 12 games because he missed weeks 2-5 with an injury. With the franchise tag placed on him, Henry is expected to make around $11 million for the 2020 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent ahead of the 2021 season.

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How Good is the Deal for Henry?

The deal may not be a bad one for Henry who will see a large annual raise. He just finished the four-year rookie deal that paid him $6.3 million over four years. He’ll nearly double that four-year total in one season. When you consider he tore his ACL in 2018, missed the entire season and has yet to record a 1,000-yard, double-digit TD campaign in his career, there could be far worse predicaments.

 

Who’s Next for the Pats and Others on TE Market?

With Henry off the market, teams with a need for a tight end will have to look at the draft for a solution, or at other free agents if they insist upon signing a veteran. Hooper has more production and a Pro Bowl selection to validate a higher salary than Henry will receive. He’s also been more durable during his career.

Because of this, he will still likely set the market for the position. However, his price tag might be too rich for the Patriots and Bears, but there is no doubt a team will pull the trigger on signing him.

If the Pats and Bears pass on Hooper, there is still a long list of potential candidates available in free agency. In fact, this might be one of the richest tight end free-agent markets in recent memory.

The destination for players like Eric Ebron, Tyler Eifert, Jimmy Graham, Vance McDonald, Marcedes Lewis, Jason Witten, Nick Vannett, Charles Clay, Seth DeValve, MyCole Pruitt, Ricky Seals-Jones and Blake Bell is still unknown, but needless to say, not all of those candidates have the combination of size, youth, and skill that Henry and Hooper bring to the table.

Keep an eye out for more information on the tight end free-agent market.

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