Hunter Henry admitted Monday that when he saw Jonnu Smith signed with the Patriots last week, he wasn’t initially expecting New England to continue to pursue him in free agency as well.
But the Pats decided to go back to one of their most successful formulas and bring back the two-tight end offense, eventually signing Henry (three years, $37.5 million) and Smith (four years, $50 million).
Henry is eager to continue to the tight end legacy in the Bill Belichick era.
“Obviously they have a long history of tight ends. Obviously I’ve watched it from afar, admired it,” he said during his first Pats video media session. “I feel like they kind of put the tight end on the map again and obviously just so many tight ends in their history that have been so great. So just a rich history of it and how they use the tight ends, how often they use two tight ends, it’s really, really exciting.
“So I’m pumped to be able to get kind of get into the system, learn it and see how I can adapt my game to it and kind of everything that goes with it, with Jonnu, everything. I’m really fired up about it.”
Henry said he spoke with Smith for the first time in the past week.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Henry said. “I feel like we complement each other well. I feel like we can compete. And I got to meet him last week, so I’m going to continue to build that relationship and I’m excited to kind of just see it show off on the field.”
In the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, Henry made 115 catches for 1,265 yards and nine touchdowns. So it should be no surprised that a couple of the tight ends of yesteryear he models his game after are two of the all-time greats.
“I think a guy that I watched a lot was Jason Witten growing up,” Henry said. “He was a guy that I really enjoyed watching, a guy that could do a little bit of everything, obviously. I mean obviously great in the passing game, but was physical in the run game, took it on, had a lot of pride in it.
“And another guy I grew up watching was Tony Gonzalez. A guy that was a freak and just a basketball player turned into a football player, was so dominant and then I feel like he really put his hat in there in the run game, had a lot of pride in it, obviously a Hall of Famer.”