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Hunter Henry’s free agency desires show Patriots should act quickly if trading for QB

If the Patriots are going to trade for their next starting quarterback, it’d make sense to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

There will be a domino effect when free agency rolls around next month.

Come March 17, Hunter Henry will be the best tight end on the market. The Patriots have a glaring need at his position and a bunch of cap space. It’s a natural fit. Bill Belichick has long admired him, too.

But in free agency Henry is looking for two things: Money (of course) and a strong signal caller. As it stands, the Patriots don’t have a starting-caliber quarterback on their roster.

“I think obviously you’ve got to look at it financially,” Henry said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “I would be lying to you if I (was) just like, ‘I’m not even going to look at the money’ or anything like that. That’s part of it. That’s part of our job and everything. But I don’t think it’s all about that, right?

“I want to play somewhere where there’s a good quarterback,” Henry continued. “That’s huge for our position. It makes things a lot easier… Playing with a good quarterback always makes things better. You gotta look at both. You gotta look at some of the financial stuff, but not dive too deep into it that you go chasing it because I also want to play with a good quarterback.”

With Jared Goff dealt for Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz sent to Indianapolis, the quarterback trade winds have already started blowing. There figure to be a few more dealt in the coming weeks. Marcus Mariota is a logical trade candidate, the Jets could move on from Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo has no guaranteed money left in San Francisco, and Deshaun Watson is still trying to force his way out of Houston.

Any of those names would be upgrades on the Patriots roster and make them a more desirable destination to free agents. In Henry’s case specifically, Belichick has been keeping tabs on the tight end since he was in high school.

“Henry continues to be a complete and very, very good football player for (the Chargers). Henry’s really been a great player,” Belichick said in December. “Watched him pretty much his whole career… he started at Pulaski Academy down in Little Rock. Played for Coach (Kevin) Kelley. Had a great career down there. Went to Arkansas. Had a great career there.

“He runs a variety of routes. He’s come back off the injury and has been a very, very productive player for them along with all the other skill players. He’s done a good job for them in the running game as well as the passing game.”

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