After having a few weeks to reflect on an uninspiring regular-season performance, New England Patriots fans are ready to look ahead. A new era began once head coach Jerod Mayo was hired as Bill Belichick's replacement, leaving the fanbase optimistic about how the rest of the offseason unfolds — especially when it concerns free agency.
According to Spotrac, the Patriots have 24 players scheduled to hit free agency in March. Even though fans will be happy to see some of those pending free agents leave, others in the fanbase might just shed a tear if certain players are wearing new jerseys next fall.
Here are five Patriots who fans would be sad to see if they leave in free agency.
1. Hunter Henry, TE
Hunter Henry was one of the bigger signings of the 2021 offseason, inking a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Patriots. Even though that was a steep price to some, there was excitement in the air regarding his ceiling after four solid seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Henry made an immediate impact in New England, finishing the 2021 campaign with 50 receptions, 603 receiving yards, and a team-high nine touchdown receptions without missing a game. Following a 2022 season that wasn't nearly as impressive (41-509-2 in 17 games), he managed to bounce back with six TD catches while recording 42 receptions and 419 yards in 14 contests last season.
Henry's three seasons in New England weren't the best, but it's going to be hard to see him go and even harder to replace him. He's been one of the NFL's best tight ends since joining the league, being tied for the fifth-most TDs at the position (30) since 2017 despite missing the entire 2018 season.
It'd be great if the Patriots' next franchise QB had Henry at his disposal. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that'll be the case.