Patriots' Updated 2021 Salary Cap After Hunter Henry's Reported $37.5M Contract

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2021

A broadcast cameraman records Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) reacting after scoring a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
David Becker/Associated Press

The free-spending New England Patriots struck again Tuesday, lavishing tight end Hunter Henry with a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the deal will come with $25 million guaranteed. The contract comes a day after the Patriots agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with Jonnu Smith, giving the Patriots the top two tight ends on the market.

While the structures of most contracts are still unknown at this point, here is a look at every Patriots contract signed over the last 24 hours, per Spotrac:

  • TE Hunter Henry: three years, $37.5 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • TE Jonnu Smith: four years, $50 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • LB Matthew Judon: four years, $56 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • DT Davon Godchaux: two years, $16 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • WR Nelson Agholor: two years, $22 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • DE Henry Anderson: two years, $7 million (2021 cap hit: TBD)
  • S Jalen Mills: four years, $26 million (2021 cap hit: $4.6 million)
  • WR Kendrick Bourne: three years, $15 million (2021 cap hit: $3.1 million)

According to Spotrac, the Patriots had $145.5 million counted toward the 2021 salary cap prior to the cap hits on those contracts being factored in. 

The Patriots already re-signed quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year contract and reacquired tackle Trent Brown before the free-agency period began.

After years of failures in drafting meaningful skill-position contributors, head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick used his massive cap resources to improve talent on the offensive side of the ball. Henry and Smith will garner natural comparisons to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and Newton has long enjoyed throwing to tight ends dating back to his fruitful relationship with Greg Olsen in Carolina.

Judon should provide a necessary uptick in pass-rushing prowess off the edges, and Godchaux is a massive force on the interior.

The 7-9 Patriots were under .500 last season for the first time in two decades, and it appears Belichick has no interest in that becoming a trend. We'll just have to see if his free-spending plan works out.