Derrick Henry Says He Wants to Sign New Titans Contract Ahead of NFL Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2020

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 19: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans looks on in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After enjoying a career year and helping guide his team to the AFC title game, Derrick Henry is open to a return to the Tennessee Titans.

Henry told ESPN's Dianna Russini on NFL Live that he'd "definitely like" to remain with the Titans as he approaches free agency this offseason (h/t Kayla Anderson of WKRN in Nashville, Tennessee).

Henry led the NFL in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) and played a pivotal role in Tennessee's playoff wins over the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. He had 377 yards and one touchdown on 64 carries.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday the Titans are hopeful of re-signing Henry and Ryan Tannehill and could use the franchise tag on one of the two. CBS Sports' Joel Corry estimated the franchise tag for a running back could be nearly $10.4 million.

Tennessee could handle Henry the same way the Pittsburgh Steelers did Le'Veon Bell. They tagged Bell for 2017 in lieu of giving him a long-term contract. Using the tactic for a second year in a row ultimately set the stage for Bell's departure.

The Titans are likely to have some misgivings about giving Henry a big-money long-term deal.

The 26-year-old logged 602 carries in three years at Alabama—including 395 in 2015—and his 303 carries were most in the league.

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The obvious concern is that Henry could have a similar arc to DeMarco Murray. Murray ran for 1,845 yards on 392 carries in 2014, and the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a five-year, $42 million deal. Philadelphia traded him to the Titans the following offseason after he averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

Keeping the franchise tag off Henry would allow Tennessee to use it on Tannehill, but a short-term commitment for the 2019 Pro Bowler might be the best approach to see if he can replicate his monster season.