There's still a chance it could happen, but, as the days wane and the Wednesday deadline draws near, Hunter Henry believes more and more that he'll be playing on the franchise tag in 2020.
It's been nearly three months since the Los Angeles Chargers tight end, whose injury history has at times outshined his talent, signed his tender on April 13. Henry stated in May that he would be fine playing on the franchise tag and, with the likelihood of that happening feeling closer to becoming a reality, the 25-year-old recently maintained his stance of not letting contract talks cloud his outlook.
"I'm not worried about it," Henry said on Friday, per Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group. "I'm just going to go out there. I get a chance to play this year and do my thing this year. I'm pretty locked in on what I got ahead of me in the 2020 season. That's what I'm locked in for, you know, I don't like to look too far ahead."
Barring a change over the next few days, Henry will be playing on a $10.6 million deal next season. After missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL, Henry suffered a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee in the season opener that sidelined him until Week 6. He made an immediate impact in his return against the Steelers, accruing 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a win. He went on to start the next 11 games and finished the 2019 campaign with career bests in receptions (55) and receiving yards (652).
His productivity has kept his name in the conversation among the league's best TEs, but Henry is well aware that having three of his four seasons shrouded by ailments has impacted his value. He's going to do everything he can to shed that stigma this fall.
"To me, I have so much to prove," Henry said. "Honestly, everybody knows my history of injuries. Unfortunate injuries that have happened in my career and I feel like that has held me back a little bit sometimes. I'm just eager to kinda get through something that I haven't been able to do for a full season.
"I think that's the biggest thing I'm focusing on. Just trying to stay healthy. I've just had some unfortunate injuries come my way. I feel the best I've felt in probably a couple years, for sure. I'm excited."