Hunter Henry admitted he was surprised to be agreeing to a deal with the New England Patriots less than one day after the organization had added fellow tight end Jonnu Smith.
The two premier free agents were the top two tight ends available on the open market, and never expected they would be wearing the same uniform when the 2021 NFL campaign started. But now that they are, it seems they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“He’s a great tight end,” Smith told reporters when asked about Henry during his introductory press conference Tuesday, per the team. “I’m excited to be able to be out there battling with him, competing with him, making each other better.”
A major reason why each is confident it will work is that they’ve already seen work before for the Patriots. It was a point of emphasis for both Smith and Henry this week.
“I’ve seen the success that the Patriots had in the past with two tight end sets,” Smith said. “I’m just confident in their ability to allow us to make plays and put the team in a position to win.”
Henry expressed a similar sentiment Monday.
“I just feel like we can complement each other in a cool way,” Henry said. “Obviously, the Patriots have a lot of success with tight ends, so I?m excited to be able to hopefully add to that. … So I’m pumped to get into the system, learn it and just see how I can adapt my game to it and everything that goes with it. With Jonnu — everything. I?m really fired up about it.”
Smith, who signed a four-year, $50 million contract, is coming off a career campaign for the Tennessee Titans, having caught 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. The 26-year-old Henry, who signed a three-year, $37.5 million deal, recorded 60 receptions for 613 yards with four touchdowns in his final season with the Los Angeles Chargers. Each contract’s terms differ, but both Henry and Smith will earn a $12.5 million average annual value per season.
Together they’ll join forces as they look to bring the Patriots back from the dead in the tight end department. New England ranked last in the NFL in receptions in each of the last two seasons.
That’s going to change this time around, and it seems both Smith and Henry are looking forward to it.