Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have lost a major target, as Hunter Henry will miss the season with a torn ACL.
When the Los Angeles Chargers made the tough decision to part ways with Antonio Gates this offseason, it was clear they were expecting big things from Hunter Henry. Yet the team may have to reconsider its decision to let Gates go. Henry will miss the entire 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL in a non-contact drill today.
Losing the former Arkansas star will be a bitter pill for Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense to swallow. He chipped in 45 catches for 579 yards in 14 games. That was good for the third-highest total on the team. Replacing that sort of production at the tight end position won’t be easy.
There aren’t really any options on the current roster who can hope to replace Henry’s production. Virgil Green joined the team in free agency from Denver, but he’s not much of a receiver. He only tallied 14 catches for the Broncos last season, so it’s hard to imagine him shouldering a significant load in the passing game.
It’s important to note that Los Angeles isn’t blessed with a ton of talent at wide receiver either. Keenan Allen is a clear number one option, but there isn’t a ton of depth behind him. The team has high hopes Mike Williams can develop this season, but that’s far from a certainty. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are both decent players, but neither is a star.
Add it all up and it’s clear the Chargers may need to give Gates another look. He only caught 30 passes last season, but that was still the second highest total for a tight end on the team. Perhaps he can enjoy a career renaissance after the shock of being released earlier this offseason.
Another option the front office might explore is free agent Coby Fleener. It’s unclear whether or not he’s able to pass a physical after suffering multiple concussions last season, but he could be ready soon. If healthy, he has enough talent to take Henry’s place as a top target for Rivers.
No matter how you break it down, losing Henry is a tough blow for the Chargers. Their offense is down one of their top targets before preseason even begins. The front office will really be tested to find a suitable replacement for Henry.