Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was a key cog in the wheel of the team’s run to the AFC Championship Game in 2019.
After winning a rushing title with 1,540 yards during the regular season, Henry carried the Titans on his back in the first two rounds of the playoffs with 377 rushing yards combined against the Patriots and Ravens.
Henry’s best season as a pro came at the perfect time, as the Alabama product is set to hit the open market if the Titans fail to either reach a long-term deal with him or place the franchise tag on him.
Despite his dominance, Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson (via ESPN) named Henry as the most overrated running back of all the players set to hit the open market this offseason.
Henry is a great running back, but the PFF data has shown that running backs are far more a product of their environment than of their ability to generate yardage — even those who eclipse 1,500 yards, as Henry did with the Titans last season. So any big-money contract sent his way will just not prove to be good value. Look at the recent history of big deals handed to backs and ask how many of those teams would rather turn back time and undo the deal.
While Henry has proven to be a sensational runner capable of taking over games, he still leaves a lot to be desired in the passing game.
Because of that, along with the fact that the running back position in general has been devalued over the years, Henry won’t command the kind of money Ezekiel Elliot got from the Cowboys (six years, $90 million), whether he signs with the Titans or not.
It’s true that Henry might seem a bit overrated from the outside looking in, but the Titans have a very different perspective of their star back and likely view him much different than outsiders do.
After all, Tennessee saw firsthand just how important Henry was to the offense, as even the sheer threat of him running the ball opened things up for the play-action passing game, and in turn that helped Ryan Tannehill thrive.
The Titans aren’t going to make Henry the highest-paid running back in the NFL if they ink him to a long-term deal, but it’s quite conceivable that he could get paid upwards of $10 to $12 million per year.
Would that be a mistake? Only time will tell.