Football Team

Henry could be more relevant to Washington after Tuesday's tags

Football Team

What was labeled as a loaded free-agent class of wide receivers became quite a bit less loaded on Tuesday, when news broke that both Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin caught the franchise tag from Chicago and Tampa Bay, respectively.

That pair of developments no doubt stung Washington fans, seeing as both of the players — and Robinson especially — had been discussed over and over as guys whom the Burgundy and Gold should pursue with conviction.

Yes, Kenny Golladay and plenty of other targets like Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Corey Davis will be available next week when the market opens, but Robinson and Godwin getting tagged takes the two top options out of the equation.

However, wideout wasn't the only position where a significant story unfolded on Tuesday. 

According to Adam Schefter, the Chargers will not be placing their franchise tag on tight end Hunter Henry, meaning he's likely about to be headed to a new organization. 

Could that organization be based in Ashburn, by chance? 

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Ever since the 2020 season ended, there have been many conversations centered around how Washington needs help at receiver. But if you boil that down to an even simpler statement, Washington really just needs help at pass catcher, since they were 30th in yardage last year. And pass-catching is an area that Henry knows well.

 

Henry, who's been in the league since 2016, has hauled in 55 and 60 balls over the last two campaigns, and nine of those wrapped up with him standing in the end zone. As a rookie, by the way, he was responsible for eight scores in 15 contests.

Now, at this point, some supporters will think of Logan Thomas and the way he broke out for Scott Turner and Ron Rivera in 2020. In fact, Thomas outpaced Henry in all of the important categories a year ago. That may then cause those supporters to conclude that, nah, Henry is a luxury.

That would be a rather hasty conclusion. 

As terrific as Thomas was in his first lap with the team, there's still room for Henry. Lots of room, really. 

During his tenure as coach, Jay Gruden yearned for (and lamented not having) two dynamic tight ends in the same huddle, which gives a play-caller substantial flexibility and can keep a defense guessing. Turner would definitely welcome Henry onto the roster.

Also, as basic as it sounds, Henry would assist the unit with moving the ball down the field, which is the entire point of the sport! No, he's not going to be the direct complement to Terry McLaurin that Robinson could've been or Golladay could be, but he would overall make the group more diverse and dangerous.

That said, Henry does carry injury concerns; he missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL and has also missed six matchups dating back to 2019. For someone projected to net a contract with a double-digit annual value, that must be weighed.

Plus, while Washington likely would love to have him on their depth chart, they'll be far from the only ones with that mindset. If the bidding gets past a number that they're comfortable with — that happened 12 months ago with Austin Hooper — they could bow out and just roll with Thomas as their leader at the spot.

In terms of straight-up need, wide receiver, linebacker, left tackle and corner are all probably ahead of tight end for Washington when it comes to their approach in free agency. Still, Henry would accomplish a lot of similar things that a WR addition would and, therefore, make Turner's job a lot easier. His lack of franchise tag may mean just as much as the Tuesday tags applied to some other popular names.