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Patriots Transactions

Hunter Henry Coming Back to New England



New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) waves to the crowd after scoring touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

Hunter Henry looked like the top tight end heading to free agency. Instead, Henry will be coming back to the New England Patriots instead of testing the market. Henry reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $27-to-$30 million.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport were the first to report.

Having Henry return to New England is a huge addition for the Patriots. It was reported here last week that New England needs to address tight end situation. Hunter Henry was also listed by PFN as one of the top three priorities among the Patriots 2024 free agents, although he has received less attention than Mike Onwenu and Kyle Dugger.

Not only was Hunter Henry going to be the top tight end among free agents, the NFL Draft class is not deep at the position. Aside from Georgia’s Brock Bowers, who should be a top ten pick, no other prospects would be able to step in and replace Henry in Week 1. If Henry was not brought back, it would be tough to argue New England didn’t take a step back at the position.

Patriots Coaching Philosophy

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has stated he will shape his offense to fit the personnel. While that might be true, it is worth noting that Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku enjoyed great success in Van Pelt’s offense. The former first-round pick improved every season he worked with Van Pelt. Last season Njoku had 81 receptions for 882 yards and six touchdowns. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl in his seventh season.

New tight ends coach Bob Bicknell has a plethora of NFL experience working with various aspects of the offense. Quarterback coach T.C. McCartney was Cleveland’s tight ends coach last year. Offensive assistant Ben McAdoo coached tight ends for six years in Green Bay. Needless to say, there is no reason this won’t be a featured position in the Patriots offense next season. Now they have a player to feature in Hunter Henry.

Hunter Henry

Bringing back Hunter Henry always makes the most sense. He is a very good football player and comes in at market value.

Henry was productive in spurts but did go through periods of disappearing. In this instance, the player was not to blame. The offensive would inexplicably ignore him for stretches, then be successful when they went back to him. Just as people talked about Mac Jones having three different offensive coordinators in three seasons, so did Henry. He also had to deal with inconsistent quarterback play. Despite this, Henry averaged 44 receptions, 510 receiving yards, and six touchdowns during his first three seasons in New England.

In addition to his production, Henry is a team leader. When head coach Jerod Mayo discussed team leaders in his first interview after taking the job, he mentioned Deatrich Wise Jr., Ja’Whaun Bentley, David Andrews, and Hunter Henry. The only member of that captain group who was not under contract at the time was their tight end.

Hunter Henry and Ja’Michael Pettway are the lone tight ends under contract with the New England Patriots. There is still more work to be done, but the key piece is now in place.

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