Derrick Henry

Titans Eyeing Derrick Henry January Return?

A few Derrick Henry timelines have been tossed around since the two-time reigning rushing champion went down. The latest suggests the Titans have not given up on their impact running back returning this season.

The Titans are optimistic Henry can return in early January, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports (video link). Henry is rehabbing a Jones fracture, an injury that an initial report indicated would knock him out for the season. But the AFC-leading team has a Henry return on its back burner.

Henry suffered the foot fracture on Halloween, and the Titans’ ground game has declined considerably. Adrian Peterson has averaged 2.3 yards per carry in two games since joining the team, and Jeremy McNichols is in the Titans’ concussion protocol. D’Onta Foreman has perhaps looked the best of Tennessee’s backs, but the workout circuit regular-turned-emergency fill-in is at 3.7 yards per tote. The Titans have continued to win without Henry, but their Julio Jones-less offense did not have an easy day in a narrow win over the Saints.

Tennessee is 1.5 games up in the race for the AFC’s bye and has wins over Buffalo and Kansas City. A bye would certainly boost Henry’s chances of returning this season. With the NFL adding a week to its schedule, the divisional round does not begin until Jan. 22. Even if the Titans fall out of the bye position, it appears they are not ruling out Henry returning for a mid-January wild-card game. Deebo Samuel beat the three-month mark in his recovery from a Jones fracture last year. The 49ers wide receiver suffered a Jones fracture in mid-June of last year and returned for the team’s Week 4 game on Oct. 4.

The Titans have Henry signed to a four-year, $50MM extension, which runs through 2023. Despite going down in Week 8, Henry still leads the NFL with 937 rushing yards. The organization will surely weigh Henry’s long-term health into a return equation, but it appears the sixth-year vet’s rehab is going well. The Titans also may have one of their better chances to reach a Super Bowl. The franchise has not earned a playoff bye since 2008 and has ventured to one Super Bowl in its history. Henry obviously would change the team’s playoff outlook.

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Multiple Teams Were Interested In Adrian Peterson; Derrick Henry Done For Year?

Veteran running back Adrian Peterson signed with the Titans this week after the team placed stud RB Derrick Henry on IR. And though his audition with Tennessee was the first time we heard anything on Peterson since July, there was apparently a fair amount of interest in his services.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the Ravens, Raiders, Bills, Falcons, and Dolphins all expressed interest in Peterson, the three-time NFL rushing leader. Peterson also says Dancing with the Stars — which has made a habit of casting current and former NFLers — made him an offer in September, an offer that he declined because he believed he would have the opportunity to sign with Baltimore.

The Ravens lost their top three RBs before the season even started, and they ended up signing veterans Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell to help fill the void, so Peterson was right to think that he might get a shot in Baltimore. That obviously didn’t happen, but the future Hall-of-Famer will get a prime opportunity with Tennessee.

At 6-2, the Titans are currently at the top of the AFC standings, so Peterson will immediately get some action for a playoff contender, something he did not get to experience over the last three seasons (he spent 2018-19 with the Washington Football Team and 2020 with the Lions). Of course, losing Henry — the engine that makes Tennessee’s offense run, with all due respect to A.J. Brown and Ryan Tannehill — could seriously undermine the club’s chances at securing a first-round bye.

Speaking of Henry, Schefter passes along some bad news for Titans fans. The last report on Henry’s foot injury suggested that he might be back as soon as Week 15, or at least in time for the playoffs, but one source tells ESPN that it would be very surprising if Henry were able to return at all this season.

Without Henry, the Titans will forge ahead with Peterson, Jeremy McNichols, and D’Onta Foreman.

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Titans To Place Derrick Henry On IR

Titans running back Derrick Henry will undergo foot surgery on Tuesday morning, head coach Mike Vrabel announced (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Vrabel didn’t specify a timeline for his recovery, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter) hears that he’ll be out for somewhere between 6-10 weeks. 

Although that’s bad news for the Titans, it’s a better outcome than what was expected just a few hours ago. Henry was feared to have suffered a more serious metatarsal fracture, one that surely would have left him in a boot for the rest of 2021. Now, the Titans could have Henry back as soon as Week 15. Or, if he needs additional time to recover, there’s still a chance that he could suit up for the postseason.

Up until last night’s injury, Henry was on pace for another stellar season. He currently leads the league with 937 rushing yards — 300+ yards more than Browns RB Nick Chubb. Had he stayed healthy, Henry could have potentially matched last year’s eye-popping total of 2,027 yards. At minimum, he probably would have captured his third consecutive NFL rushing title.

Without Henry, the Titans are set to deploy Jeremy McNichols as their RB1 with support from Khari Blasingame and Dontrell Hilliard at RB. However, they’ll also audition a few free agents this week, including Adrian Peterson (Twitter link via Rapoport). Peterson might not be the player he once was, but he still managed 604 yards and seven TDs via ground with the Lions last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans’ Derrick Henry Done For Year?

Derrick Henry suffered a potentially season-ending foot injury last night (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). He’ll know more after an MRI today, but the early word isn’t promising for the Titans running back. 

[RELATED: Titans Place Darrynton Evans On IR]

Doctors fear that Henry is dealing with a Jones fracture, which would require season-ending surgery (Twitter link via Schefter). Henry suffered the injury towards the end of the second half, but somehow managed to play through the pain in overtime. A Jones fracture would not allow for any further heroics in 2021.

Henry currently leads the NFL with ten rushing touchdowns and 937 rushing yards, far ahead of Browns RB Nick Chubb (584). He finished Sunday night with 28 carries for 68 yards, with some of those totes coming after the injury.

If Henry misses time, the Titans will be left with Jeremy McNichols, Khari Blasingame, and Dontrell Hilliard at RB. Of course, none of those tailbacks can replace Henry, who tallied 2,027 rushing yards last year en route to his second straight rushing title.

The Titans advanced to 6-2 after edging the Colts last night. They’ll likely be without their star running back in Week 9 when they face the Rams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Sign Derrick Henry To Extension

With less than an hour remaining until this year’s deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, the Titans appear to have a deal done. They have agreed to terms with Derrick Henry on a long-term contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Titans announced the extension.

This has been a historically quiet tag deadline, due largely to the financial uncertainty the pandemic has caused. And as recently as Tuesday, the Titans and Henry were believed to be too far apart. But they stayed in contact and have finalized an agreement. It’s a four-year pact, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter).

The Titans and Henry worked on a deal for months. The final result: a four-year, $50MM agreement, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeting $25.5MM will be guaranteed. This $12.5MM-per-year pact comes in fifth among active backs, but with two years being essentially guaranteed, it will give the reigning rushing champion security at a position that largely lacks it.

Per Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the deal includes a $12MM signing bonus and a first-year cash flow of $15MM, a nice increase from the $10.278MM Henry was due to earn on the franchise tender. It also creates over $4MM of cap space this year for the Titans, giving them more than $24MM to spend. Tennessee could opt to roll most of that money over into 2021 to guard against a salary cap drop, but the club clearly has the ability to add more talent (see: Jadeveon Clowney).

The running back market spike from 2018-19, for the most part, did not reward teams who authorized the big-money deals. And the loaded 2017 running back draft class may be set to make the 2021 free agency class a buyer’s market, especially considering the cap implications COVID-19 could cause. But the Titans moved forward anyway and will now have Henry and Ryan Tannehill signed to long-term deals, rewarding the duo most responsible for the team’s first AFC championship game berth in 17 years.

Henry is coming off one of the better contract years in recent memory, following up his rushing title with dominant performances in Titans upset wins over the Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs. The former Heisman winner and second-round pick has been one of the league’s best backs over the past season and change, beginning his breakout late in the 2018 campaign.

Adding to the intrigue behind this deal: Henry’s throwback skill set offers little in the passing game, separating him from the recent group of backs — Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott — to sign market-reshaping contracts. The previous recipient of a monster running back extension — Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey — is perhaps the game’s premier dual-threat option. Tennessee, however, has built a run-oriented offense around its top back. And Henry, despite his bulldozing style, has only totaled 804 carries. That ranks eighth among backs since 2016.

Despite 15 players being tagged this offseason, Henry is only the second to sign an extension. He follows the Chiefs’ Chris Jones. The other teams who have used the tag are a half-hour away from carrying the tag salaries on their respective payrolls this season. The NFL moved the start of the league year back multiple times because of the CBA ratification process, but the league keeping the tag deadline in place has likely caused most teams to stand down amid the uncertainty the coronavirus has injected into the NFL’s future.

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Titans’ Derrick Henry Unlikely To Sign Long-Term Deal

The Titans have until Wednesday afternoon to hammer out a long-term deal with Derrick Henry, but it’s not likely to happen, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Unless something changes quickly, Henry will play out the 2020 season with a salary of $10.27MM. After that, the two sides won’t be able to revisit talks until the season wraps, and he’ll be on course for free agency in March of next year.

[RELATED: Titans Unsure About Jonnu Smith Extension]

Unlike Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, there’s no possibility of a holdout here. Henry has already signed the tender and the two sides are on good terms. When they do get down to brass tacks again, it’ll be a matter of money. Henry is believed to be seeking a deal worth at least $15MM per year and at least $30MM guaranteed – a big commitment for a running back, even one that’s as dominant as Henry.

Henry’s combo of gaudy stats and a low odometer should serve him well in negotiations. He didn’t see a ton of carries in his first three years and he’s coming off an unreal season. Last year, Henry led the NFL in rushing and bolstered the Titans to an AFC Championship Game appearance. All in all, he racked up 1,540 yards on the ground and 16 scores on 303 carries. He also tacked on another 206 yards and two TDs through the air for good measure.

In addition to cap concerns, the Titans’ short-term finances may also be a roadblock to a deal. Recently, Titans GM Jon Robinson said that the current climate has the team skittish about putting too much money on the books.

I’m a big analogy guy,” Robinson said. “It’s no different than if I was if I was working for Pepsi or Coke, and I knew that we weren’t going to have as many sales. …You wouldn’t go out and buy a new houseI don’t know what that’s going to look like…What you don’t want to do is do something and then you’ve got to undo it or try to unpack it a year, two years from now, given the uncertainty of the salary cap.”

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Latest On Titans, Derrick Henry

The Titans and star running back Derrick Henry have been negotiating a long-term pact for at least the past six weeks or so, but as Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com writes, no extension is imminent. If the two sides cannot agree to terms by July 15, Henry will play out the 2020 season on his $10.278MM franchise tender.

[RELATED: Titans Monitoring Two Big-Name Vets]

Henry has already signed the tender, so there won’t be a holdout if nothing gets done by the deadline. But teams have been generally hesitant to authorize large extensions in the uncertain financial climate created by COVID-19, and running backs sometimes have difficulty securing big paydays even under normal circumstances.

On the other hand, Henry is not a normal running back. Thanks to relatively light usage over his first three years in the league, he should have plenty of tread left on his tires, and he is coming off a remarkable campaign in which he led the league in rushing and quite literally carried the Titans to a surprise appearance in the AFC Championship Game. He piled up 1,540 yards and 16 TDs on 303 carries, and he added another 206 yards and two TDs through the air. As such, he is surely shooting for a deal worth at least $15MM per year, with at least $30MM guaranteed at signing.

Given his importance to the team, that doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, but it sounds as if there is still a large gap to bridge between player and team. Nonetheless, McCormick says both sides remain amenable to an extension and plan to continue talking right up to the deadline if necessary.

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Status Of All 15 Tagged Players Prior to July 15 Extension Deadline

The clock is ticking for tagged players to sign extensions with their teams, per the league calendar.

July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Haven’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Haven’t Signed Tag, Threatening Hold Out

Titans, Derrick Henry Discussing Deal

The Titans have more than a month to reach an extension agreement with Derrick Henry, but they are not putting off talks until the deadline nears — a common franchise tag practice.

GM Jon Robinson confirmed he has engaged in talks with Henry’s agent over the past two weeks, according to TitanInsider.com’s Terry McCormick (on Twitter). The most recent call occurred this week.

This represents a positive development for these parties. The Titans slapped the tag on Henry in March, and the reigning rushing champion signed it in April. Should Henry and the Titans not agree to the long-term deal both sides prefer by July 15, the fifth-year back is locked into a $10.278MM salary.

Tennessee drafted Appalachian State’s Darrynton Evans in the third round but remains intent on signing Henry to an extension. Evans may cut into Henry’s workload more than Dion Lewis did last year, but that could be a bonus for the bruising back’s longevity. This will be Henry’s age-26 season.

Henry is coming off one of the better contract years in recent memory, tacking two dominant playoff performances — in road wins over the Patriots and Ravens — onto his rushing championship. The former second-round pick has been one of the league’s best backs over the past season and change, beginning his breakout late in the 2018 campaign.

Henry also profiles as one of numerous extension-eligible running backs around the league, joining the stacked class of 2017 along with Cardinals transition-tagged back Kenyan Drake and 2018 UDFA Phillip Lindsay among key backs now up for new deals. Henry’s will be a key piece on an uncertain market.

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Titans Notes: Henry, Davis, QB

While speculation swirls about the Titans and a potential Jadeveon Clowney signing, here’s the latest on the players who are actually on Tennessee’s roster:

  • Last year, Derrick Henry led the league in both carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540). This year, he’ll likely be looking at a reduced workload. Tennessee’s offense will benefit “if more guys are touching the ball,” Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith says (Twitter link via Michael Giardi of NFL.com). If a significant number of those touches figure to go to third-round rookie Darrynton Evans, Henry’s future earnings could be impacted. Unless the Titans and Derrick Henry come to terms on an extension between now and the July 15 deadline, the running back will be on course for free agency in 2021. It’s worth mentioning that a lighter workload may actually benefit Henry as teams tend to fret about RB odometers.
  • Corey Davis‘ future with the Titans is also in limbo, but Smith tells the team website that he likes what he’s seen out of the wide receiver thus far. “There were some huge explosive plays (last year) that Corey was the unsung hero to,” Smith said. “He’s a big part of this offense and I think he’ll take another step. I feel very confident in Corey, A.J. and Adam (Humphries) and that group.” The Titans, as expected, turned down Davis’ fifth-year option in May. Through three pro seasons, Davis has just six touchdowns to his credit.
  • There’s been talk of the Titans adding a veteran backup quarterback, but Smith suggested that the QB2 job will go to either Logan Woodside or Cole McDonald, depending on how the camp competition unfolds.