Titans running back Derrick Henry has signed his franchise tender, as Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). If he plays out the 2020 season under the tender, he would earn $10.2MM while counting for an equivalent charge against Tennessee’s salary cap.
However, we heard yesterday that the Titans want to complete a long-term extension with the 2019 rushing champion in advance of the July 15 deadline, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that is still the case (Twitter link). Henry, understandably, is just as committed to getting a deal done as Tennessee is.
Of course, running back negotiations have been rife with complications in recent years, and the performances that players like Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Le’Veon Bell turned in after signing their own big-money deals could make a team like the Titans hesitant to commit to a lucrative multi-year pact for an RB. On the other hand, Gurley and Johnson have dealt with serious injury issues, and Bell saw a ton of touches with Pittsburgh before holding out an entire season. Ezekiel Elliott, despite having a lot of miles on his odometer, performed at a Pro Bowl level in 2019 after signing his new contract, which currently leads all RB deals with a $15MM AAV.
Henry, on the other hand, was used relatively sparingly in his first three years in the league before being unleashed on opposing teams in 2019. The Titans rode the bruising Alabama product to a berth in the AFC Championship Game last season, and if the club makes another deep postseason run in 2020, Henry will almost certainly be a big reason why. He piled up 1,540 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground in 2019, to go along with another 206 yards and two TDs through the air. Though the Chiefs managed to contain him for the most part in the AFCCG, he made a mockery of the Patriots’ and Ravens’ highly-touted defenses in the prior two playoff contests.
He will likely top Elliott’s $15MM annual payout and Elliott’s $28MM in full guarantees. But luckily for Tennessee, Henry cannot now stage a training camp holdout.
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