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Report: Hunter Henry to sign with Patriots

Hunter Henry lands in New England alongside free agent tight end Jonnus Smith.

 Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent tight end Hunter Henry has found a new home, and a new opportunity to compete for a starting job. The New England Patriots have signed Henry, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This is somewhat unexpected after the team already agreed to a deal with TE Jonnu Smith, but Bill Belichick has always wanted two strong tight ends in his offense. The duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will be examined and compared to the duo of Henry and Smith often.

After getting franchise tagged in 2020, the Los Angeles Chargers opted not to tag Henry again heading into his sixth NFL season. His 2020 season was on-par with that of his 2019 campaign, posting comparable numbers in yards and touchdowns, though he did play two fewer games in 2020. Still, he was the third-leading pass-catcher on the roster last year, behind Kennan Allen and Mike Williams.

Henry has ability to be sure and at this point, he and Smith should be the focal point of the offense, as newly signed Nelson Agholor will be the home run hitter. Much will depend on Julian Edelman and his health. If he remains a big part of the offense, Smith and Henry will have trouble getting the number of targets we’d like to see in fantasy, but Edelman looked done last season, so there is a chance both can have fantasy value this year.