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Chargers lose TE Hunter Henry to Patriots in free agency, could seek Zach Ertz trade

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry catches a pass as Las Vegas Raiders' Nick Kwiatkoski tries to make the tackle.
Tight end Hunter Henry catches a pass for the Chargers with the Las Vegas Raiders’ Nick Kwiatkoski defending Dec. 13. Henry has agreed to join the New England Patriots.
(Jeff Bottari / Associated Press)

The Chargers suffered a significant free-agent loss Tuesday when Hunter Henry agreed to a three-year contract with New England. His departure means the Chargers will need to find a new starter at the position.

In a potentially related development, Philadelphia on Tuesday gave Zach Ertz and his representatives permission to seek a trade. The Eagles are looking for a third- or fourth-round pick for the 30-year-old, according to the NFL Network.

Ertz is entering the final year of his contract and is due to make a base salary of $8.5 million. He’s coming off the worst statistical season of his career but made the Pro Bowl in each of the previous three seasons.

In 2018, he caught 116 passes for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 88 receptions for 916 yards in 2019.

Quarterback Justin Herbert developed quick chemistry with his tight end last season, as Henry finished with a career-high 93 targets.

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The Chargers also could look to the open market for Henry’s replacement. Veterans Kyle Rudolph and Jared Cook are the two most-prominent options left in free agency. Cook, who turns 34 in April, played the last two seasons in New Orleans, where Joe Lombardi was an offensive assistant. Lombardi is the Chargers’ new offensive coordinator.

The Chargers address their offensive line needs by reportedly agreeing to deals with former Packers center Corey Linsley and ex-Steelers guard Matt Feiler.

The Chargers have the No. 13 overall pick in the NFL draft, and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is considered to be a potential superstar. Most projections have him gone by the time the Chargers’ first selection arrives, however.

They also have an obvious connection to Gerald Everett, a free agent from the Rams. New Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020.

Henry, 26, was a second-round draft choice in 2016 out of Arkansas. He played on a franchise tag of $10.6 million last season. The Chargers opted not to tag Henry again this year because of salary cap concerns, and now he’s heading for New England.

Tyrod Taylor agrees to deal with Texans

Tyrod Taylor’s eventful, one-start tenure with the Chargers ended when he agreed to a one-year deal with Houston.

The veteran began last season as the Chargers’ starter. After a 16-13 victory at Cincinnati in the opener, Taylor suffered a punctured lung in a medical mishap in the locker room before the Chargers’ Week 2 matchup against Kansas City.

Unable to play, he was replaced by the rookie Herbert, who led the Chargers to a touchdown drive on his first career possession and never relinquished the starting job. Taylor’s representatives and the NFL Players Association investigated the incident but opted to take no action against the Chargers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic cutting into NFL revenue, the salary cap took a big hit this year. Here’s how it will affect NFL free agency this week.

With Taylor gone, Easton Stick becomes the backup to Herbert, though the Chargers figure to look to add a No. 2 quarterback with more experience. Stick, a fifth-round pick out of North Dakota State in 2019, has played only two NFL snaps.

Taylor originally signed to back up Philip Rivers in 2019. He ended up appearing in 10 games for the Chargers, completing 20 of 36 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown.

Kicker Michael Badgley re-signed

The Chargers re-signed kicker Michael Badgley to a one-year contract.

In his third season, he struggled at times in 2020, converting only 10 of 19 field-goal attempts from 40 yards and beyond. Badgley was 14 for 14 from closer range and 36 for 39 on extra points.

The Chargers signed free agent Tristan Vizcaino last week to compete for their starting job in training camp. Vizcaino kicked in one game last season for San Francisco, making all five of his attempts.


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