Hunter Henry was going to be one of the most sought-after pieces in free agency last offseason, but the Chargers were quick to swipe him off the open market by hitting the tight end with the franchise tag. With it pretty unlikely that he endures the same fate in 2021, Henry is now finally on the doorstep of free agency, which could potentially lead to the end of his tenure with Los Angeles. While he is less than a month away from freely speaking with other clubs and agreeing to sign with them, it doesn't appear that the door is closed for Henry to ultimately find his way back to the Chargers in 2021 and beyond.
"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 told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via NFL.com. "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."
At a projected salary cap of $180 million, the Chargers have enough space ($23 million) to bring Henry back if they so choose. According to the market projections at Spotrac, Henry could be looking at a contract that pays him an average annual salary of $10.9 million, which is just above Cleveland tight end Austin Hooper and below the likes of George Kittle and Travis Kelce.
As Henry noted, what makes the Chargers an attractive destination for any pass catcher is the presence of Justin Herbert. Los Angeles' Rookie of the Year looks to have a promising career in front of him under center, making him someone receivers would salivate to play with. If Henry's free-agent experience ultimately leads him to another team than the Chargers, however, it appears looking for a destination that has a similar talent level at that position is of the highest priority.
"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."
Free agency officially opens up on March 17 at 4 p.m. ET.