If the New England Patriots want to sign Hunter Henry to a free agent contract this season, as many suspect, the team may have to offer him more than money.
The 26-year-old, who played the first five years of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers, made it clear that the basis for his decision to go free agency goes beyond money.
Henry told SiriusXM NFL:
I’d be lying if I didn’t just say, “I’m not even looking at the money” or something like that. That’s part of it. It’s part of our job and everything else, but I don’t think it’s just that. I want to play at a position with a good quarterback. It’s really important for our position. It makes it a lot easier … Playing with a good quarterback always makes it better. You have to look at both. You have to look at some financial things, but you shouldn’t spend too much time on that, because I want to play with a good quarterback, too.
Tight End Hunter’s free agent Henry explained his approach to Free Agency and shared his thoughts on the franchise label. ….
“I want to play somewhere where they have a good quarterback.”
?AUDIO? #Chargers | #BoltUp pic.twitter.com/ZRfUYO4sxr
– SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 19, 2021
Many would assume that Henry’s priorities would exclude the Patriots unless they contracted or traded for a veteran quarterback who would meet Henry’s needs. You also have to wonder if other free agents would see it that way.
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The only Patriots quarterbacks under contract for the 2021 season are Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala. He remains the type of player who will attract the best free agents.
If the Patriots could bring in a star like Deshaun Watson of Houston, Texas, or Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, it would be a different story. Both Watson and Ryan have reputations and resumes of the kind that attract people who are at the end of their rope, like Henry and some of the best wide receivers available.
Even if the Patriots slow down and track down Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers or strike a deal that gets them Marcus Mariota from Las Vegas, Hunter and other free agents may be more inclined to sign with New England.
Cam Newton, that’s a different story. There are probably players in the league who still believe in Newton and others who don’t. It’s not clear which side of the fence Henry will be on in this scenario.
Henry needs to stay healthy.
Although he has his criteria for a team that wants to contract him, Henry should manage to become a bit more constant on the pitch in the coming years.
Henry missed two games in 2020, four in 2019 and missed the entire 2018 season after tearing his ACL. The four games he missed in 2019 were due to a knee fracture. Lifetime will be the rule for anyone who decides to give Henry a chance.
If he’s in good health, he could give the Patriots what they so sorely lack: a tight game that excels in both receiving and blocking. Henry is all over the place after a season in which he allowed 60 receptions, 613 yards (another career record) and four touchdowns.
If the Patriots had gotten this kind of production from bits and pieces, they might not have looked like this season.
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