Derrick Henry free agency 2020: Top landing spots, projected contract, latest updates, rumors and more


The NFL’s 2019 rushing champion is hitting free agency. Derrick Henry carried the Tennessee Titans to the postseason this year, as he rushed for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging a career-high 5.1 yards. In the playoffs, he took his game to another level. Henry rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown in the wild-card round against the New England Patriots, 195 yards against the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round and then 69 yards and a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. 

The former second-round pick has evolved into one of the best running backs in the NFL, and doesn’t show the normal fatigue backs do over the course of an NFL season. During the last four games of the 2018 season, he rushed for 585 yards and seven touchdowns. While Henry recorded just one 100-yard game in the first nine weeks of the 2019 season, he recorded five 100-yard rushing games in his last six regular-season games. Giving a running back a huge contract is a big decision, but Henry has proven that he can carry an entire offense to the precipice of the Super Bowl.

As we move forward toward the start of NFL free agency, this will serve as the hub for all Henry-related free agent updates. From the latest rumors to his projected contract on the open market, the top landing spots and a lot more; when it comes to his free agency we will have it all here. 

Top free agent landing spots for Henry

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Los Angeles Chargers
  5. Houston Texans

My prediction is that Henry re-signs with the Titans, but if not, another team will step up to pay big bucks for Henry. The Buccaneers could be moving on from Jameis Winston this offseason, and if they do, why not throw some money at the running back position? Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber aren’t bad backs, but Henry would obviously be a massive upgrade. The Dolphins had the worst run game in the NFL, as they averaged just 72.3 yards per game. They have plenty of money to work with this offseason, and could sign Henry to play alongside former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa if the Dolphins decide to draft him at No. 5 overall. The Chargers have basically already said no to paying Melvin Gordon big money, but maybe they would open the checkbook for Henry. Austin Ekeler is scheduled to be a restricted free agent as well, so the Chargers’ backfield could look very different in 2020. Wouldn’t it be wild if Henry went to a rival next year? It could happen with the Texans. Both Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller are unrestricted free agents and having a monster like Henry in the backfield will instantly make Houston’s offense one of the best in the league. 

Projected market value for Henry in free agency

Over at Spotrac, one of the leading providers of NFL contract and salary cap information, they have projected Henry’s estimated contract at four years, $55.3 million with an average salary of $13.8 million. That still falls under both Ezekiel Elliott’s six-year, $90 million deal and Todd Gurley’s four-year, $57.5 million deal in total value and in average salary. It would surpass Le’Veon Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million deal he signed with the New York Jets and David Johnson’s three-year $39 million deal. This estimated figure could change depending on if Gordon signs a big deal, but Henry should be the highest-paid running back in this free agency class. 

Scouting report on Henry (pros and cons):

Pros:

  • Rare combination of size and speed (6-foot-3, 247 pounds)
  • Physical, downhill runner, runs through contact
  • Home-run hitter, holds the record for longest rushing touchdown
  • Dangerous both inside and outside the tackles
  • Shows no signs of fatigue, has played through injuries, never missed more than one game in a season

Cons:

  • Nearing 900 career touches, how much tread is left on the tires?

Titans GM determined to re-sign Derrick Henry

Tuesday, Feb. 25: “Recent history indicates that resetting the market by giving a running back big money is not always smart, and while Henry carried the Titans to the AFC Championship game, it’s unknown if Tennessee would be willing to make him the highest-paid running back in the league.

During media availability on Tuesday ahead of the NFL Combine, Titans general manager Jon Robinson sounded determined to work out a deal to keep Henry in Nashville.

‘Derrick had a great year for us,’ Robinson said, via Erik Bacharach of the Tennessean. ‘I mean he led the league in rushing, he built off the second half of the 2018 season that he had, he cares about his teammates, he works hard, he’s great in the community and we’re going to work through that one and do everything we can to try to keep him around.'”

Read more from Jordan Dajani’s story, here

Derrick Henry clarifies his ‘Zeke is the floor’ comment: ‘I misunderstood’

Friday, Feb. 21: “Basically I misunderstood what Rick said. I was basically agreeing to ‘Zeke is the floor’ as far as to my understanding … as him being the highest-paid,” said Henry. “He’s the peak of where running backs want to be at as far as getting paid. That was my understanding of him saying ‘Zeke is the floor.’

“Like I said in every other interview, I’ll get my agent, he will handle all the contract negotiations, that’s his job, he’s been doing it for a long time and we’ll see where it goes as far as the Titans and trying to get this thing figured out.” 

Read more from Jordan Dajani’s story, here.

CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora: Titans must heed warning signs and avoid paying Derrick Henry after a career year

Friday, Feb. 7: “Sorry, but I’d be drafting them in the middle rounds and renting them for a few years on streamlined free agent contracts (like the Ravens are doing with Mark Ingram) and saving my money for quarterbacks and defensive ends and corners and left tackles. It gets more obvious by the year, and even Henry’s playoff heroics wouldn’t sway me.

Tag ’em twice if you have to, and then move on. It may be cruel, but the economics of the NFL dictates it. Even with a swelling salary cap, I’d spend my money elsewhere.”

Read more from Jason La Canfora’s story, here

‘Zeke’s number is the floor’

Friday, Jan. 31:

Jerome Bettis weighs in on the future of Derrick Henry

Tuesday, Jan. 28: “I would expect a big year from him (in 2020),” said Bettis. “I think people, especially the Tennessee Titans, they’re starting to understand how you fully utilize a running back like Derrick Henry. It took them a few years, but much like when he was at Alabama … you don’t get his true ability with 5, 6, 10, 15 carries. He needs 25 carries, 30 carries for you to see his true effectiveness and how special he is as a running back.”

Read more from Bryan DeArdo’s story, here

Former sports agent Joel Corry takes a look at what’s next for Derrick Henry

Wednesday, Jan. 22: “Getting a deal done with Ryan Tannehill would leave the franchise tag for Henry. An inability to sign Tannehill in a timely fashion likely means Henry will be a transition player. The non-exclusive running back franchise and transition tags are expected to be $10.732 million and $8.56 million respectively with a $200 million salary cap. The transition tag only gives teams a right of first refusal with an offer sheet whereas the non-exclusive franchise tag provides two first round picks if matching rights aren’t exercised.

“Henry will likely be looking to join the top running back salary tier with his next contract. However, he doesn’t fit the profile of running backs who have been commanding top dollar. Dual threat running backs have been getting that type of money lately. Henry doesn’t add much in the passing game. He is more of a traditional ball carrier from the previous era.”

Read more from Joel Corry’s story, here





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