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Hunter Henry set to be a free agent after Chargers decline to use franchise tag

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is tackled after making a catch
Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is tackled after making a catch against the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 29. Henry is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.
(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)

The Chargers opted to not franchise tag Hunter Henry before the deadline Tuesday, meaning the tight end is set to become a free agent next week.

Henry played last season on a tag that paid him $10.6 million. That price would have risen to $12.7 million in 2021. The Chargers still could sign Henry to a multiyear extension, which would enable the team to lower his immediate salary cap hit.

With the cap dropping this offseason because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL teams are being forced to tighten budgets.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco says not to get stuck on offensive-line issues being all the team needs to become a Super Bowl contender.

Several clubs in recent weeks have released veterans or worked out restructured contracts to free cap space. The Chargers have yet to make any such moves, but do have cut candidates, including right guard Trai Turner and cornerback Casey Hayward, among others.

Henry, 26, is entering this sixth season after being a second-round pick in 2016 out of Arkansas. He had a career-high 60 receptions for 613 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Henry was quarterback Justin Herbert’s second-favorite target, behind wide receiver Keenan Allen.

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