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Chargers tag tight end Hunter Henry, taking Patriots out of free-agent equation

Impending free agent Hunter Henry was franchised on Friday.

Green Bay Packers v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Scratch tight end Hunter Henry off the list of potential New England Patriots signings.

The Los Angeles Chargers announced Friday that they’ve placed the franchise tag on the 25-year-old impending free agent, as NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported.

The franchise tag, if not rescinded, projects to make Henry the highest-paid tight end in the league at this time. And it leaves a trade as the lone option for a team looking to acquire Henry when the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 18.

Henry was on track to become the top available target at a scarce position, alongside recent Pro Bowlers in the Atlanta Falcons’ Austin Hooper and the Indianapolis Colts’ Eric Ebron.

Since arriving in the second round of the 2016 draft, Henry has tallied 136 receptions for 1,709 yards and 17 touchdowns over 41 games. He received the Chargers’ Ed Block Courage Award this past campaign after a torn ACL forced him to miss all but the AFC divisional round versus New England in 2018.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Arkansas Razorbacks product was a three-time All-SEC selection and earned unanimous All-American honors to go with the John Mackey Award in 2015.

And for now, he’ll remain with the organization that filled out his draft card on a one-year pact.

New England currently stands with two tight ends under contract for 2020. Veteran Matt LaCosse and former seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo combined to catch 19 passes for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season.