The Chargers franchise tagged tight end Hunter Henry to a one-year deal worth $10.6 million on March 13. He signed the deal, but hopes to stay with the team long term.
"It's definitely a blessing to get the franchise tag," Henry stated Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. "It only being one year, definitely we're going to try to extend something and get something for a longer-term. Definitely would like to do something in that aspect."
Henry said on Wednesday that both sides were close to a contract extension until the coronavirus pandemic started, then it was time for the team to focus on the NFL draft. The Bolts have until July 15 to get a contract extension done, and if they fail to do so, they won't be able to negotiate until the season is over.
Henry is coming off his best season as a pro with career highs in catches (55), yards (652), and added five touchdowns. He did miss four games with a knee injury but returned like he hadn't missed a beat.
"I was just ready to sign it," Henry said. "Just with everything going on with this, and just myself, like I just wasn't a guy that wanted to hold out and kind of do all that. I wasn't going to do that. That's just not me. Some guys can do it. It's just not me."
He has been a big part of the Chargers offense since being drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft. Henry was the heir apparent to future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates.
General manager Tom Telesco has always preached drafting, grooming, and then paying their players.
"There are other guys that need to be signed too. We'll continue to talk especially as we get closer to the deadline," Henry said.
He is not wrong; the Chargers have defensive end Melvin Ingram, receiver Keenan Allen, cornerback Desmond King, center Mike Pouncey, defensive end Joey Bosa and Henry all due to hit free agency next offseason. That is a discussion for a different day.
What Henry has shown the Chargers brass in his first four seasons is when he is on the field, he is one of the better blocking and pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. Why the word "when?" Well, the Arkansas product has missed 22 games in four seasons.
The team will need a healthy Henry this season because quarterback Philip Rivers is now an Indianapolis Colt, so penciled-in starter Tyrod Taylor will need all of his weapons ready to go.
"I'm excited for this team, and I'm excited for going into this new stadium with new jerseys, new look, everything," said Henry. "So, hopefully, we can work something out. We're definitely going back and forth. I think all this pandemic stuff has kind of put a lot of that on hold for a while with them going into the draft. So, hopefully, we can pick it back up and see where we go from there."
The Chargers are one of the various teams that are doing virtual workouts on Zoom. Players can interact with other players and conditioning to get in shape. There are many question marks on whether there will be a training camp or not, but players are trying to stay in shape and doing it while obeying the social distancing rules.
"I have pretty high confidence that we are going to have a season. We have four months until games are supposed to start to figure it out," he said. "I'm open to playing games without fans for a while, and then hopefully things will get better."