Throughout the 2023 season, signs pointed to Derrick Henry departing the Titans in free agency. He offered a public acknowledgement of the team’s fans before leaving the field in Week 18, a further sign that he will be playing elsewhere in 2024.
When speaking further about his situation, the All-Pro back doubled down on the signs pointing to a departure. During an appearance on the Bussin’ With the Boys podcast, he noted his surprise at Tennessee’s decision to fire head coach Mike Vrabel (video link). That move was made in large part due to the disconnect between the former Coach of the Year and the vision for the franchise held by owner Amy Adams Strunk and general manager Ran Carthon.
The latter has kept the door open to a new Henry deal, and the four-time Pro Bowler likewise did not entirely discount an agreement keeping him in Nashville. With the team set for a reset under a new coach and a full season with 2023 second-rounder Will Levis at quarterback, though, Henry could be better-suited to join a roster set up for immediate contention. Heading into his age-30 season, he could generate interest on a short-term contract in particular.
“I want to be somewhere that, whatever happens, that gives me the best shot of winning the Super Bowl,” Henry said. “The business side is the business side. At the end of the day, it has to make sense. I’m not just going to accept anything because it’s a long season, we put our bodies through a lot. But at the same time, I definitely want to be on a roster that can go out there and put ourselves in position and be able to win games, get in the playoffs and contend for a ring.”
Henry is set to see his four-year, $50MM contract expire in March. Unlike many other positions, running backs have seen their value stagnate and drop in recent years, something which will of course be taken into account should he test the market for the first time in his career. The two-time rushing champion matched a career low with a 4.2 yards per carry average, but his 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns helped demonstrate his sustained value into the waning years of his prime. Henry would provide an experienced backfield option to any contending team in need of help in the backfield.
The Titans (a team with a number of roster holes to fill) are currently projected to have the second-most cap space in the league, and third-rounder Tyjae Spears racked up 838 scrimmage yards in his rookie season while logging an unusually high workload for a Henry backup. The Titans could very well turn to Spears as their lead back moving forward, something which would pave the way for Henry to join a new team for the first time in his career during free agency.