Derrick Henry Signs Franchise Tender to Stay With Tennessee Titans

At the least, Henry is guaranteed a base salary of $10.2 million this season

Running back Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry during the first half in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Maddie Meyer/Getty

Coming off the best season of his career, Derrick Henry has signed his franchise tender and will stay with the Tennessee Titans for at least next season. 

By signing the tender, Henry — who had 303 carries for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season, followed up by 83 carries for 446 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason — guaranteed himself a base salary of $10.2 million next season. 

Now, Henry and the team will have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. Titans general manager Jon Robinson said yesterday that he’s optimistic about that happening. 

It’s great news for Henry that the Titans want to keep him in Tennessee on a long-term deal but it might not be the greatest idea for the future success of the franchise.

Henry, who turned 26 in January, has touched the football more than 3,000 times during game action throughout high school, college and the NFL.

While he excelled last season and nearly carried the Titans all the way to the Super Bowl, the odds are not in Henry’s favor that he’ll be able to be as effective going forward as the majority of NFL running backs take a big hit once they turn 27.

Henry’s junior by a year, Todd Gurley, signed a four-year, $60 million contract (including $45 million guaranteed) with the Rams in 2018 and was cut this offseason due to ineffectiveness. (He’s since signed with the Falcons for, by NFL standards, pocket change.)

While there’s no guarantee the same thing will happen with Henry, it certainly seems like a pretty big gamble for the Titans to go all-in with him, especially after taking a chance and signing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year, $118 million contract (including $62 million guaranteed) based on half a season of good play. 

It’s certainly understandable the team wants to preserve the magic that carried them to a 7-3 regular-season finish and a surprise AFC Championship Game run, but trying to do it with a 26-year-old running back and a journeyman quarterback doesn’t seem like the safest way to do it.

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