Hunter Henry Not Expecting Multiyear Deal Before July 15 Deadline
Jason B. Hirschhorn
The Los Angeles Chargers have until July 15 to sign a multiyear extension with franchise-tagged tight end Hunter Henry. But while both sides still have time to reach an agreement, Henry expects to play out the 2020 season under the terms of his tag.
"I don't' think anything will get done, but we'll see," Henry told the OC Register's Gilbert Manzano, adding, "I'm not worried about it. 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 for, you know, I don't like to look too far ahead."
The Chargers tagged Henry in March to keep the talented tight end off the open market. He has since signed his franchise tender, securing a salary of just over $11 million as well as his roster spot for 2020. While Henry has said on multiple occasions that he hopes to remain in Los Angeles long term, he has also previously expressed his comfort playing under the terms of the franchise tag this season.
Henry also understands that, on some level, his situation comes down to proving he can stay healthy. The tight end has missed 20 games over the last two seasons including four in 2019 to a foot injury. That lost time didn't prevent Henry from posting the best single-season stats of his career -- 55 catches for 652 yards and five touchdowns -- but it does raise legitimate questions regarding whether he merits a multiyear deal.
"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 kind of get through something that I haven't been able to do for a full season."
Playing through a full 16-game slate would quiet many of the concerns surrounding Henry's health. It would also give him the opportunity to cash in next offseason when perhaps both the San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle and the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce have signed new deals, resetting the tight-end market.
Still, Henry's focus remains on gearing up for the upcoming season and keeping his body right.
"I think that's the biggest thing I'm focusing on, just trying to stay healthy," Henry said. "I've just had some unfortunate injuries come my way. I feel the best I've felt in probably a couple of years, for sure. I'm excited."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH