Derrick Henry has officially signed his franchise tender for 2020, which should be music to the ears of Tennessee Titans fans.
As soon as the Tennessee Titans and quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreed on a lucrative contract extension, it was obvious running back Derrick Henry was going to receive the franchise tag. In contrast, however, Henry has, in essence, become the face of the franchise.
As the NFL’s reigning rushing leader, Henry has brought the team a level of national notoriety that hasn’t been there since Chris Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2009. He even willed the offense to an AFC Championship Game appearance, the franchise’s most successful season since 2002.
When you take all of that into consideration, you would have at least somewhat understood the decision to holdout if Henry decided to go that route, a la Le’Veon Bell with Pittsburgh. Being a tall, bruising back whose susceptible to getting his knees chopped, you wonder how long a runner like Henry will last.
More from NFL Spin Zone
- Dallas Cowboys made the trade everyone else should have made
- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie sleeper everyone should be talking about
- Anthony Richardson putting jaw-dropping talent on display immediately
- Denver Broncos’ stud wide receiver might be out for a while
- Washington Commanders: Three takeaways from win over Ravens
That concern isn’t a testament to the durability of Henry, who has maintained a mostly clean bill of health since entering the league. It’s more directed at the average lifespan of running backs in today’s game — especially in relation to a franchise handing out a hefty pay-day.
With Henry officially signing his franchise tender (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter), he has put the possibility of a holdout to rest. Henry won’t be sitting out an entire season in Bell fashion, missing a big payday while simultaneously hurting his team in order to prove a point. He actually cares about his team and helping the Titans get to places they haven’t been in a long time.
Since the season’s conclusion, Henry has been adamant about wanting to be with the Tennessee Titans long term and signing that tender certainly backs that notion. General manager Jon Robinson has even publicly reciprocated that interest in trying to get a long-term agreement done with the star running back.
The negotiations between the Titans and Henry will obviously have some obstacles. As I stated earlier, the track record for running backs getting paid hasn’t necessarily been positive. And you have to wonder how Henry’s body can hold up if the team were to continue to give him over 400 touches per season as they did in 2019.
But with those doubts are reasons to believe that Derrick Henry can certainly be an exception. First off there aren’t many running backs — let alone human beings — who are built like Henry. Not just in physical stature, but also when it comes to his work ethic in the weight room. Every physical aspect of Henry can be described in one word: freakish.
Then there’s how head coach Mike Vrabel blushes over Henry’s development as a team leader. Vrabel elaborated on how Henry would stop practice and make the offense run a play over until the entire unit got it right. It’s these kind of instances that make you believe that paying Henry is completely different then paying someone like Bell or Melvin Gordon.
The team and Henry have until July 15 to figure out a long-term agreement. Henry’s franchise tag is costing approximately $10.2 million against the cap, so it’ll be interesting to see how Robinson handles these negotiations.
With the new CBA and soon to be negotiated TV deals, the salary cap is expected to jump a great figure the next few years. That, along with Robinson’s tendency to award team-first players like Henry make a deal very likely between the two parties.