Hunter Henry played the 2020 season under the franchise tag. He's now ready to experience free agency.
Henry is less than a month away from his first go-around as a for-hire pass-catcher -- as long as the Chargers don't strike a deal with him first -- and he's keeping an open mind about the entire process.
"I've really enjoyed my time here, so I'm not going to ever rule that out, you know, with a young quarterback, me and Justin (Herbert) have formed a relationship," Henry explained in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "But I think I'm open to whatever, and I think I kind of have to, in a way, but I really enjoyed my time and if that continues, I'll be excited. If that doesn't, then that would be a new step and a new place to kind of start again."
Henry posted another season in 2020 similar to that of his first three campaigns (not including the season lost to injury), catching 60 passes for 613 yards and four scores. His yards per reception mark was the lowest of his career, but not by a wide margin, and he'll likely command a deal similar to the one Austin Hooper received from the Browns last spring.
With a projected cap of $180 million, the Chargers will have a little over $23 million in space without Henry. That's more than enough room to take on Henry on a deal around $10 million per year, which would seem to be accurate for the type of production Henry has posted in his career to this point. Though he's the top available tight end on the market and squarely in his prime at 27 years old, Henry has yet to make an impact like George Kittle and Travis Kelce -- the league's top two tight ends in output and compensation -- and with the cap constraints felt by all 32 teams this offseason, it's fair to expect he won't come within that range.
A reunion in Los Angeles seems quite possible, if the Chargers are looking to lock up Henry long-term. And if they aren't, Henry's wishes for his new team aren't outrageous.
"I want to play somewhere there's a good quarterback," Henry said. "That's huge for our position. It makes things a lot easier ... Playing with a good quarterback always makes things better. You gotta look at both. You gotta look at some of the financial stuff, but not dive too deep into it that you go chasing it because I also want to play with a good quarterback."
That's certainly fair to ask out of an interested team. Of the teams at or ahead of the Chargers in available cap space, none has a better current situation under center than the Bolts. Perhaps moving boxes won't be needed after all. We'll find out soon enough.