On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the Titans have come to an agreement on a 4 year contract extension with Derrick Henry. The deal is a 4 year contract worth $50 million with $25.5 million guaranteed, which makes Henry the 4th highest paid Running Back in the NFL. His Average Annual Value (AAV) of $12.5m, is the 5th highest in the NFL among Running Backs.
This comes one day after Adam Schefter reported that the Titans were not likely to reach an extension with Henry. This deal was announced about an hour before the deadline to extend franchise tagged players and was submitted to the league just 3 minutes before the deadline.
On April 13th, Derrick Henry signed the franchise tag for the 2020-21 season. On the tag, Henry would have made about $10.2 million though his contract extension overrides that. The deal is a win-win which benefits both the Titans and Henry. Henry only trails Running Backs Ezekiel Elliot, Christian McCaffrey, and Le'Veon Bell in total contract value.
Henry emerged in the final four games of 2018 and has been among the best players in the league since then. His hot streak started with a 4 touchdown game against the Jaguars which featured a 99-yard touchdown. He picked up where he left off in 2019 and totaled 1,540 rushing yards which lead the league. He also had 16 rushing touchdowns which was tied for first.
Undoubtedly, Henry was critical in the Titans postseason run. Henry became the first player in NFL postseason history to run for 170 yards or more in consecutive playoff games. Additionally, he recorded the most rushing yards ever in a single postseason run. Henry's value to the Titans is worth far more than his $50m contract but the contract is fair regardless.
Historically, paying running backs has often not panned out well for teams. Recently, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Le'Veon Bell have not lived up to their large contracts. For example, Johnson signed a 3 year, $39m with the Cardinals and recorded just 345 yards in the following season. Subsequently, he was traded to the Texans over this offseason. Running Back's shelf life his historically shorter than other positions and injuries are more common.
The Titans made their trust in Henry clear. GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel made it clear throughout the virtual offseason that signing Henry was a priority. Henry's deal is another outstanding contract crafted by Jon Robinson. Earlier this offseason, Robinson signed Ryan Tannehill to a 4 year extension. Now, the Titans have their most important players of 2019 locked up for 4 more seasons.
Despite these contracts, the Titans have $19m left in cap space. They opted not to resign Jack Conklin and Logan Ryan. After they traded Jurrell Casey, they still have a massive problem, pass rush. Hopefully this is all building up to the Titans signing Jadeveon Clowney. When asked about Clowney, Jon Robinson said he would like Clowney to have a physical prior to possibly signing him. Obviously that is not possible at the moment because we are in the midst of a pandemic but the Titans still have the sufficient cap space to sign Clowney.
Derrick Henry has become the best runner in the NFL over the past 2 seasons. He brings immense value to the Titans and is the main reason for the offense's success. As I have written repeatedly since the inception of this site, especially when the Titans were struggling early last season, the Titans success will come when Derrick Henry can get going.
This deal is great for Derrick Henry and the Titans and locking up their best player is a great move.