Patriots’ standout tight end named as possible cap casualty by NFL.com
The New England Patriots clearly aren’t a team fortunate enough to have a room full of offensive playmakers. Yet, in a year where they could lose their best receiver, Jakobi Meyers, NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund named tight end Hunter Henry as a possible 2023 cap casualty.
It isn’t a crazy idea considering the money the Patriots could save and the fact that they still have Jonnu Smith on the roster. The Patriots could use that money to fortify other areas of need, even if it means moving on from one of quarterback Mac Jones’ most reliable playmakers.
“Last season, Henry racked up 56 receiving yards over expected when aligned tight, per Next Gen Stats, ranking fourth among all tight ends. However, he posted a -2.8 catch rate over expected (his lowest mark since at least 2017, when NGS started tracking the figure) and a career-low 1.3 yards per route run. He also had PFF’s seventh-lowest run-blocking grade among 44 qualified TEs. Seeing how Henry possesses the third-highest cap figure at the position in 2023, this contract looks like a prime target to revisit.”
The 2023 NFL draft is one of the deepest it has ever been with tight end prospects. So realistically, the Patriots would have an opportunity to replace Henry with a younger and cheaper option.
There’s also the hope that more efficient play-calling from newly-hired offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will lead to the long-awaited breakout from Smith.
Of course, a move like this would come with significant risk. The Patriots would be dumping one of their few productive offensive players in a unit hurting for high-end talent. They’d also be making assumptions that Smith would see great improvement, along with Belichick’s ability to hit on a replacement capable of coming in and contributing right away.
That’s a lot of what-ifs for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in two of their last three seasons. They might prefer to play it safe this time around.
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