Shortly after the Ryan Tannehill extension news surfaced, the Titans will move to the next phase in their offseason plan. The team will use its franchise tag on Derrick Henry, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Twelve players have now been tagged — most since 21 were in 2012.
The Titans will now have their centerpiece players locked up for 2020. Tannehill and Henry spearheaded the franchise’s first trip to the AFC championship game in 17 years, and the latter authored a historic playoff run. The move to tag Henry will cost $10.3MM.
While this decision will likely send Jack Conklin into free agency, the Titans have gone from potentially losing both Conklin and Henry to keeping a core player — at least for the 2020 season. Henry turned 26 midway through his playoff rampage and would have been an interesting free agent, factoring in his bruising dominance with a lack of impact in the passing game.
Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and totaled 18 touchdowns last season. Splitting time with DeMarco Murray during his first two seasons, Henry started slowly in 2018 before finishing strong and closing a 1,000-yard season. He turned in one of the most dominant stretches by a running back in years during the 2019 stretch run to help the Titans go from being shut out in Denver to notching upset playoff wins in New England and Baltimore.
This tag also places Henry in rare territory. In the past eight tag periods, Henry and Le’Veon Bell are the only running backs to receive the tag. The latter played on the tag in 2017 but skipped the 2018 season in protest of it, forfeiting $14.5MM. Henry has not said how he will proceed on the tag, but he and the Titans have until July 15 to agree on an extension. Considering how most of the high-end running back contracts have played out in recent years — including Bell’s Jets pact — Henry’s negotiations will be interesting.
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