The Tennessee Titans want to make sure running back Derrick Henry stays with the team long-term even after applying the franchise tag earlier in March.
As the NFL offseason continues to ramp up, Titans general manager Jon Robinson said extension talks with Henry will resume as training camp opens up.
"I met with Derrick, as I met with all the guys whose contracts were going to be up at the end of the season and told them we were going to start working on that, which we did," Robinson said on a conference call with the media. "At the end of the day we couldn't come to an agreement on that one, so we used one of the avenues to keep Derrick because Derrick is an important part of our football team.
"I have spoken to [Derrick's] representatives after we used the tag and we want to continue to have those discussions ... in hopes of reaching some type of long-term agreement and we'll kick those conversations off again here certainly before training camp gets ramped up and going."
The Titans used a non-exclusive franchise tag on Henry, allowing other teams to still offer deals to the running back with an opportunity for Tennessee to match. Should Henry leave, the Titans would recoup two first-round draft picks from the team he signs with in return. More importantly, the tag can be rescinded should Henry and the Titans reach a deal before July 15.
If the two sides are unable to come together on a long-term agreement, Henry will play on the franchise tag for the 2020 season and become a free agent again next spring. Should that be the case, Henry will earn $10.27 million, per Spotrac.com.
Tennessee certainly doesn't have any problems handing out long-term deals. As free agency opened up, Robinson gave a four-year, $118 million deal to quarterback Ryan Tannehill after half a season's worth of action.
With his quarterback locked up after leading the team to the AFC title game in 2020, Robinson now turns his attention to Henry, who may be the most important player on offense for the Titans. Last season he ran for 1,540 yards to finish as the NFL's rushing leader. He added 16 touchdowns while averaging 102.7 yards per game on the ground.
Henry has already made clear that he wants to remain in Tennessee, setting up what should be a high-stakes contract negotiation for a Tennessee team that's just starting to see it's championship window open.
"I think any time a player, when you have to use the tag on them, that's something that ideally they probably don't want," Robinson said. "But still, at the same time, I know that he wants to be a part of this football team and I thought it was good that they communicated back he does want to be here, and he does want to keep working on this thing. It wasn't something like, 'OK, well, I'll take the (tag) and I'm done, or I am just going to do whatever. He wants to be here, and he conveyed the message to me, through his agent, that he wants to keep working on this thing and we do, too."