Report: Titans, Derrick Henry not close on contract extension

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry carried the team on an incredible postseason run during the 2019 NFL season. If the Titans want to make sure their workhorse stays in the backfield for the future, contract talks will need to ramp up quickly.

Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry ‘not on the verge’ of contract extension

The Titans placed the $10.2 million franchise tag on Derrick Henry this offseason and the star runner signed it quickly. While he will be back in Tennessee’s backfield next season, the clock is ticking on a contract extension.

Similar to Dak Prescott’s situation with the Dallas Cowboys, the Titans have until July 15 to sign Henry to an extension. If both sides fail to reach a deal, he will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag and be eligible for free agency next offseason.

While Henry and the Titans have discussed an extension for months, an agreement isn’t on the horizon. According to TitanInsider’s Terry McCormick, no extension is on the verge of happening with less than a week to go before the deadline.

Henry certainly wants to become one of the NFL’s highest-paid running backs. While his $10.27 million salary currently ranks fifth in the NFL, he could easily aim for Ezekiel Elliott’s deal ($15 million annually).

Given the Titans already committed to Ryan Tannehill with a massive four-year contract, it only makes sense for the club to keep their backfield tandem together.

Derrick Henry’s stats highlight his strengths and weaknesses

The Titans don’t reach the AFC Championship Game, or even reach the playoffs, last season if it weren’t for Henry. However, the 26-year-old’s numbers and role make signing him to a huge contract more complicated.

Henry dominated in 2019, earning second-team All-Pro honors and finishing first in rushing yards (1,540), carries (303) and tied for first in rushing touchdowns (16). He was even better in Tennessee’s two playoff wins. He rumbled through the New England Patriots for 204 total yards, then helped upset the Baltimore Ravens with a 195-yard performance.

However, Henry isn’t as reliable on passing downs. In an era when all-purpose backs like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley carry more value, Henry has recorded just 57 receptions in 62 career games.

The history of paying running backs also hasn’t worked out recently for teams. Le’Veon Bell’s $52.5 million contract is an albatross, the Cowboys will likely regret Elliott’s $90 million deal soon and David Johnson regressed after signing his $39 million contract.

The Titans might be better off letting Henry play under the tag this season, then allowing him to test free agency next year.