New England Patriots: Hunter Henry injury exposes lack of tight end depth

New England Patriots Tight End Hunter Henry (Photo by Aubrey Lao /Getty Images)
New England Patriots Tight End Hunter Henry (Photo by Aubrey Lao /Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots’ tight end depth just got worse with the injury to Hunter Henry. Frankly, even with him and Jonnu Smith, they still needed additional depth.

Now with Henry out (hopefully for just a few weeks), it has become an even more precarious situation. Behind these two top, but oft-injured stars, there ain’t no one.

Bill Belichick, you just can’t depend on two injury-“likely” (held back from saying “prone”) guys to carry the total load. They can’t and won’t. It’s really too much to ask.

The New England Patriots still desperately need additional depth at tight end, even if they have failed, as yet, to see the gravity of that situation.

The New England Patriots need another solid, i.e. good tight end

What’s needed is an infusion of another solid tight end. Forget about Devin Asiasi and Matt LaCosse, they won’t do. The Patriots have to make a move for another tight end, and soon.

LaCosse is a journeyman. That’s all he is. And, as much as we all hoped he’d do well, if Asiasi couldn’t crack the tight end rotation in 2020, is it logical to expect he will this season?

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The answer is, probably, no, though it was thought that the two rookies last season should have been given the opportunity early on. That didn’t work out at all.

In the offseason, many, including in this space, really liked the addition of Henry and Smith who together caught 101 passes last season.

That’s top production. But if they are out injured, they ain’t helping. Already, the injury bug has hit both.

Smith was out very early on and now it’s Henry who’ll be out a while. It’s not a great situation if your offense is going to be relying heavily on running and a solid tight end group.

Whether the quarterback is the presumptive starter, Cam Newton, or the rookie chasing him, Mac Jones, the thrower will need that part of the team to produce. They can’t be in the medical room.

Unfortunately, you have to expect that each of the top two will be for part of the season. So, what’s to be done?

The answer is to get out and look for a team with some redundancy there and who may have a need for a player you can provide. And deal. Simple? No. Possible? Absolutely.

Will a New England Patriots trade of Sony Michel bring back a good tight end?

The New England Patriots have solid depth at running back. Sony Michel, whose 5th-year option was not picked up by the team, could be wheeled for a solid tight end since he’s a solid running back.

Michel hasn’t exceeded or maybe even met expectations after he was taken in the first round out of Georgia in 2018.

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Whatever that case may be, he’s now healthy and he’s a decent back in anybody’s room. The challenge is to find a club with some depth in the tight end position and deal.

One that comes to mind is perhaps the New York Giants. Coached by former Patriots assistant, Joe Judge, the Giants may want to secure some insurance should Saquon Barkley have continued injury issues.

While the Giants are not exactly stacked at the position, they may have enough depth to feel they could part with Kaden Smith in a deal for Michel.

Smith caught 18 passes in 2020 for New York. While those are not in any way earth-shattering numbers, they would have equaled the entire production of the New England tight end room last season.

In addition, Smith is only 24 years old and may just blossom in the future. In any event, he’d be a solid third tight end for the team.

Another team that came to mind was one with which the New England Patriots have had multiple dealings in the past, the Philadelphia “Iggles”.

While the Eagles have two top tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, there is not much behind them, unfortunately.

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So, it looks like the Giants may very well be one team to approach to shore up that third tight end position, which is a very real and concrete need for the New England Patriots.

Let us know what you think about this tight-end situation. It could be a great contributor to the New England Patriots’ 2021 season, if they can stay healthy.

We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas on this.