Los Angeles Chargers Tight End Hunter Henry is an unbelievable talent. At 6’5, 250 lbs, he has the absolute perfect size for a Tight End, while still having good speed, clocking in at 4.72 in the 40. When he is on the field, Henry is not only a fan favorite, but he was often a favorite of Chargers QB Philip Rivers. Last season, Hunter ranked 10th among TEs in receptions (55), 12th in Targets (76), and 10th in Target Share (18.1%), and that’s with only playing in 12 games.
Unfortunately, that is the major problem. No one can question Henry’s talent and importance in the offense, but if you’re not on the field, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. In his first four seasons, Henry has yet to play a complete 16 games and missed the entirety of the 2018 season. When healthy, he can play with some of the best tight ends in the game, but at this point in his career, what if the Chargers could swap him for another player at the same position?
Now let’s be realistic. With his checkered injury history, the Chargers are not swapping Henry for Travis Kelce or George Kittle, but there is one tight end that would be extremely intriguing to look into.
Let’s dive in, and make sure to vote at the end on who you would rather have.When looking at a true player swap, we need to look at a number of factors. Skillset, offensive fit, price (salary), and age. I wanted to create a realistic scenario and not just some outlandish fanboy article. This also means that the swap needs to be positive (at least to some extent) for both teams involved.
I already mentioned all of Hunter Henry’s attributes, so who are we swapping him for?
Let’s go ahead and knock out some of the obvious comps. Henry is 6’5 250. Goedert is 6’5 256. Henry is 25. Goedert is 25. Henry was drafted in the 2nd round, 35th overall. Goedert was drafted in the 2nd round, 49th overall. Henry is a gifted athlete, three-down tight end, with an extensive route tree and the ability to block in-line. Goedert can run any route, can fit in any scheme, dominated at the FCS level, and can block when called upon.
Although the same age, Goedert came into the NFL two years after Henry. When giving him a draft grade, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report actually gave Goedert the player comp of… you guessed it, Hunter Henry.
So when you look at all the similarities why even go through the headache of a player swap? Well, all of those great gifts that Henry has are null if he can’t stay on the field. If you remember, the Chargers were in a similar situation with CB Jason Verrett. After being drafted in the first round, Verrett has the talent to be one of the top corners in the game, but the poor guy just can’t stay healthy. The Chargers finally decided to move on last offseason, and have since added Chris Harris Jr., who is a bit older, but is extremely reliable and, most importantly, available.
This is why this swap could be in the Chargers’ best interest. Two years into his career, Dallas Goedert has only missed one game.
After missing the first four games last year, Henry finished with 652 yards and five touchdowns. A very solid stat-line for missing some time, and another reminder of what Henry has the ability to be.
Goedert finished with a similar stat-line last year: 607 yards and five touchdowns. But there is one major difference. Goedert plays second fiddle to Zach Ertz, who is arguably a top-three tight end in the game. Solid production for a second-year player that was not the featured weapon. Now let’s not misconstrue it too much, Eagles Coach Doug Pederson ran a lot of 12 personnel that got both TEs involved, but you can see the picture that I am painting.
So the age checks out. Skillset is extremely similar and both players can play in just about any scheme. So the final box that should be checked in order for this to be a successful swap is the price.
Hunter Henry will be playing 2020 on the franchise tag, meaning he is on a one-year deal worth $10,607,000. Dallas Goedert has two years remaining on his rookie deal worth $3,323,434. Obviously this tips the scale in favor of the Chargers. They get a player with no injury history, similar skillset, similar production, and will be under contract for two more years for a third the cost.
So why would the Eagles say yes? Well, they already have their star Tight End in Zach Ertz, who is still only 29. While Goedert has extreme upside, we know exactly how good Henry is when healthy. So they take a one-year flier on him and create a superstar Tight End tandem. If it works out, the ball is in their court to negotiate a long-term deal, and if not, they cut their losses and move on, with Ertz still on the roster and no one is the wiser.
For the Chargers, they get some reliability at the TE position. Reliability that they haven’t had game in and game out since Antonio Gates was in his prime. Aside from health, Goedert does improve the position in a few metrics. Looking at Anthony Lynn and Shane Steichen’s new offense, Yards After Catch will be an important metric to look at as the scheme will call for a lot of quick throws and short-yardage plays, asking skill players to create yards with the ball in their hands.
In 2019, Hunter Henry finished 35th (113 YAC) among Tight Ends in yards after catch, while Goedert finished 5th (337 YAC). This isn’t to say that Henry couldn’t create more positive yards with the ball in his hands, but with the injury concern, it may not be something you want to ask him to have to do.
Dallas Goedert could thrive in this system.