Derrick Henry

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Derrick Henry Signs Franchise Tender

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Eyeing Derrick Henry Extension

The Titans letting Derrick Henry play on the franchise tag and giving him upwards of 300 touches before reassessing his value down the line would an interesting approach. Three teams reached tag-and-trade agreements last year. But the Titans want to sign the reigning rushing champion to an extension.

Jon Robinson met with Henry before the Titans used their franchise tag on him and has spoken with the four-year veteran since applying the tender, the Tennessee GM said Wednesday. Henry said, per Robinson, he wants to stay in Tennessee long-term.

While Robinson added that he wants to revisit talks before training camp, he has no choice. The Titans have until July 15 to reach an extension agreement with Henry. The 26-year-old back is currently attached to a $10.3MM franchise tender, though he has yet to sign it. If no deal is reached by then, Henry will count $10.3MM on the Titans’ 2020 payroll.

These will be interesting negotiations, given what has happened to the top tier of the running back market since Todd Gurley raised the salary bar. Gurley and David Johnson are on different teams, and Le’Veon Bell is coming off a disappointing Jets debut season. Ezekiel Elliott still leads the running back pack, at $15MM AAV, and made the Pro Bowl last season. But the Cowboys’ deal is the outlier presently.

Despite Elliott and Henry coming into the league in the 2016 draft, the former has a whopping 1,358 career touches. Henry, who split time with DeMarco Murray during his first two seasons, has accumulated only 861. Henry’s workload figures to factor into his negotiations with the Titans, who reached a long-term agreement with Ryan Tannehill and kept their bruising back off the market via the tag. As does his place on a run-heavy Titans team. A tag-and-trade scenario might not benefit the Titans, with Henry likely being more valuable in their offense than he would be elsewhere. Counting Henry’s tag price, the Titans hold just more than $23MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans To Tag RB Derrick Henry

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: CBA, RB Market, Walton, Smith

We got a new update on many of the details surrounding the new collective bargaining agreement, and now we have an update on the timeline. Attorneys from the league office will meet with NFLPA attorneys early next week in DC, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Those sides expect to have a final draft ready by late next week, and it will be sent out from there. Graziano reports that the NFLPA is still working out how the voting will take place from the full membership, and that the union is estimating 2-2.5 weeks until the voting process is complete. As such, it sounds like it’s going to be a little while before we know an answer one way or the other, and hopes that it would get done by next week were unrealistic. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

Here’s more from around the league as the combine continues:

  • Several teams have signed running backs to massive contracts in recent years, and then nearly immediately regretted it. Most notably, David Johnson and Todd Gurley received huge extensions from the Cardinals and Rams respectively before regressing sharply. Other teams appear to be taking note of that trend, and it looks like they’ll be acting accordingly. “The running backs slated to be free agents in a few weeks will not be getting paid huge contracts,” sources told Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. Accordingly, Pauline writes that many around the league now expect it to be easier for the Titans to re-sign impending free agent Derrick Henry, since there won’t be as much competition for his services as some might have thought. Le’Veon Bell is another runner who recently signed a big deal before failing to live up to expectations, and it will be very interesting to see what the market looks like when free agency opens in a few weeks.
  • Mark Walton seemingly can’t stay out of trouble. The embattled running back was arrested following a verbal incident with the mother of his child, according to 7 News Miami. There was no physical contact this time, but Walton violated the terms of a restraining order against him. He was released by the Dolphins in November after a domestic violence arrest. The former Miami star had started to break out with the Dolphins, becoming their starting running back before the ugly arrest. He was originally drafted by the Bengals but was cut by Cincy after three offseason arrests for more minor offenses. He’s likely facing a suspension, and it’s hard to see him playing in the league any time soon.
  • Former Browns defensive lineman Chris Smith is looking to make a comeback. Smith’s girlfriend was tragically killed in a car accident last year, leaving Smith as a single father of their child. Not long after the incident the Browns released him, and he spent the rest of the year out of football. Smith is now “feeling better and ready to resume his career” and will look to sign with a team, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Smith entered the league in 2014 and has spent time with the Jaguars and Bengals as well. He appeared in all 16 games for the Browns in 2018, starting two.