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Patriots 90-Man Roster Spotlight: Hunter Henry

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New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) catches a touchdown pass as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee (23) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

The New England Patriots can have up to 90 players under contract during the offseason. Patriots Football Now will profile all 90 players (though there are currently 91 on the roster) over the upcoming months. Today’s featured player is tight end Hunter Henry.

Hunter Henry

The San Diego Chargers selected Henry in the second round (No. 35 overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. It was the same draft class as his new teammate and fellow tight end Austin Hooper (No. 81 to Atlanta). Henry was tabbed to become the successor to Antonio Gates, whose Hall of Fame career was winding down. They played three seasons together for the Chargers (2016 to 2018) with Henry becoming the primary tight end in his second season.

Henry tore his right ACL on May 22, 2018, in OTAs. It caused him to miss the entire regular season. He returned to have consecutive 600-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. The only other NFL tight ends to do the same in those years were Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller.

Also Read – Patriots Pick Jaheim Bell at No. 231 in the 2024 NFL Draft

In the four seasons, across five years, Hunter Henry played with the Chargers, he averaged 49 receptions for 581 yards and five touchdowns.

New England signed Henry to a three-year $37.5 million deal during the free agency period in 2021. He appeared in all 34 regular season games across his first two seasons. Henry caught 91 passes for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons. This scribe was among those who believed the Patriots underutilized Henry as a receiving threat. Henry finished 2023 with 42 receptions for 419 yards and six touchdowns.

Pro Football Focus gave Hunter Henry a 69.3 grade for his 2023 performance. He ranked No. 15 of 45 tight ends last season with at least 30 targets.

Contract Status

Hunter Henry agreed to a three-year contract with the Patriots this offseason. He is set to make between $27 and $30 million.

Tight End Group

The New England Patriots have six tight ends on their 90-man offseason roster. Hunter Henry is joined by Austin Hooper, Mitchell Wilcox, La’Michael Pettway, Jaheim Bell, and Jacob Warren.

Outlook for Hunter Henry

Henry is not only a productive starter for New England, but a team leader as well. He served as a team captain for the Patriots last season. He is the lone member of the tight end group with a secured spot on the 53-man roster.

New England added Austin Hooper and Mitchell Wilcox in free agency. They added rookies Jaheim Bell in the draft and Jacob Warren as an undrafted free agent. Only La’Michael Pettway also returns to Foxboro from 2023, though he had no game experience with the Patriots.

Hunter Henry is entering his ninth NFL season, though he doesn’t turn 30 until December. The three-year deal signed by Henry shows that New England viewed him as a core contributor, even after the turnover in leadership.

The potential for Hunter Henry to have a huge season with the New England Patriots is there. Most of the new offensive coaching staff came over from the Cleveland Browns, for whom tight end David Njoku earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2023 (81 receptions, 882 receiving yards, six touchdowns). If they can figure out a way to utilize Henry similarly in 2024, it will go a long way to helping turn around the stagnant offense of a year ago.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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