The Chargers moved on from longtime tight end Antonio Gates this offseason after 15 years with the franchise, planning to expand the role of talented third-year player Hunter Henry. Now it's time for a Plan B.
Henry suffered a torn ACL during a drill on Tuesday, the Chargers announced on Twitter. ESPN's Adam Schefter first broke the news.
Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL during today’s practice.— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) May 23, 2018
Tuesday marked the first day of organized team activities for the Chargers, who are coming off a 9-7 season that saw them finish second place in the AFC West. Early futures odds peg the team as the favorite to win the AFC West, with the Westgate SuperBook listing the Chargers as +150 to finish first in the division, followed by the Chiefs (+200), Raiders (+300) and Broncos (+650).
Henry was expected to play a big role in the team's potential playoff bid. Splitting time with Gates over his first two seasons, Henry caught 81 of his 115 targets for 1.057 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016-17. Gates caught 83 of his 145 targets for 864 yards and 10 touchdowns over the same span.
With Henry out, the Chargers' new No. 1 tight end is Virgil Green, who spent his first seven seasons in Denver before signing with the Chargers this offseason. Long on potential, Green has caught just 71 passes for 807 yards with four touchdowns in 100 career games.
Other options for the Chargers could include re-upping with Gates despite his late-career slowdown, signing a free agent or hitting the trade market for a potential starter. Available free agents include Coby Fleener, Brent Celek, Marcedes Lewis and Gary Barnidge, who didn't play in 2017 but caught 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns with the Browns in 2015.