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

Running back Derrick Henry quite literally carried the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship this past season, as he rushed for 446 yards, two touchdowns and even threw a touchdown in three postseason games. The NFL’s leading rusher is set to become a free agent this offseason, and he said something recently that made waves around the sports world.

You probably saw the quote on Instagram or Twitter: “Titans running back Derrick Henry says ‘Zeke’s number is the floor’ when it comes to his new contract.” Last September, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott signed a contract which made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history — a six-year deal worth more than $90 million. 

Henry’s quote came across as aggressive — like he would have no problem moving on from the Titans if they refuse to make him the highest-paid running back. That’s simply not the case.

Henry’s “quote” came during an appearance on the “Rich Eisen Show,” and the phrase was actually fed to him by Eisen.

A few weeks later, Henry appeared on the Bussin’ With the Boys podcast, which is hosted by teammate Taylor Lewan and former teammate Will Compton. He clarified the previous statement he made concerning Elliott, and said that he simply misunderstood what Eisen meant.  

“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.” 

Henry also commented on an Instagram post of his quote, trying to clarify his statement.

Henry was basically confirming that Elliott’s contract was the example of what every running back would want. It was not a demand. 

Now, will his agent, Jimmy Sexton, try to get a contract that makes Henry the highest-paid running back in the NFL? Of course, that’s what a good agent is supposed to do. The former Heisman Trophy winner just put up career numbers all across the board, led the league in rushing and carried a postseason afterthought to the precipice of the Super Bowl. What’s noteworthy is the tone of Henry’s quote. Out of context, it seems like Henry will be aggressive in setting his price and that he has no problem picking up and leaving Nashville if the Titans do not meet his demands. He has said several times that he wants to remain with the Titans, and that’s something worth noting.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sure thing Henry will be back in the two-tone blue in 2020. The Titans have several big free agents that are due new contracts, including Ryan Tannehill at the quarterback position. It will be interesting to see where the Titans decide to spend their money, but Henry has proved without a doubt that he’s one of the best running backs in the league. 

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