Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry enjoyed a superb 2019 regular season. The former Heisman Trophy winner led the entire NFL in rushing, and was the only running back in all of football to eclipse the 1,500-yard barrier. His brilliant play helped him be selected to his first-ever Pro Bowl.
However, since we’ve turned the calendar from December to November and entered the postseason, Henry has taken his game to new heights. He has averaged 188.5 yards per game over his two playoff games this year, eclipsing the 180-yard mark in each contest, becoming the first player in NFL history to record two games of 180 rushing yards over the same postseason.
Henry has now averaged an insane 159.1 rushing yards per game over his past seven games, seemingly cementing himself amongst the upper echelon of players at his position.
Derrick Henry Hitting the Market at the Perfect Time
Henry’s rise to the top of the running back totem poll couldn’t have come at a better time for the former Alabama standout, as he’s in the midst of a contract year.
There are currently four running backs who make between $13 million and $15 million average yearly salary, with Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott leading the way, owning the latter price tag.
The most ridiculous take away from the position’s salary is the fact that Henry’s little-used backup Dion Lewis currently ranks as the 13th-highest-paid RB in football. Henry, on the other hand, was the 42nd-highest paid running back this past season, giving the Titans a return on investment for the ages.
Expect those numbers to drastically change heading into 2020, as Henry is expected to break the bank.
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Top 4 Landing Spots For Henry in Free Agency
4. New England Patriots
We’ll start things out with a bonus, because frankly, this is probably my favorite fit on the list. Sony Michel finished 2019 tenfold better than he started it, but New England still seemed reluctant to feature their second-year back on a constant basis during any stretch of the season.
While many wouldn’t expect New England to cut the check on a running back, they’ve done it before, and in return, Corey Dillion led them to a Super Bowl. Let’s also not forget that Henry is the main reason Bill Belichick will be watching the Conference Championship on the couch like the rest of us today. Henry would help prolong Tom Brady’s career serving as a suped-up version of Legarrette Blount from years past.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronald Jones offers upside, but he’s proven unable to carry the load of an every-down running back thus far in his career. For as Jekyll and Hyde as Tampa Bay’s quarterback Jameis Winston is, he’s undeniably talented. However, a true run game would likely take an immense amount of pressure off his shoulder, leading to improved play across the entire Buccaneers offense. Derrick Henry could make the Bucs a playoff team, and potentially make Winston a legitimate quarterback.
2. Miami Dolphins
Miami is not the place that the majority of fans would like to see Henry go, but it may make the most sense outside of Tennessee. Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin are nothing more than change-of-pace backs in this league. Miami will have the most cap space in all the NFL once free agency opens. The ‘Phins will likely be selecting a quarterback early on in the 2020 NFL Draft, and there’s no better way to help develop a young signal-caller than with a solid run game.
1. Tennessee Titans
While many may point to Todd Gurley as a cautionary tale, there is just simply no way that Tennessee doesn’t at the very least franchise their star running back. However, the two sides should be able to come together on terms for a new contract. While his workload and bruising style may bring doubts about his longevity, let’s not forget this is the same organization that doled out big bucks for a DeMarco Murray on the downslide of his career.
The Titans are a young up and coming team, and Henry is the driving force that takes them from good to potential Super Bowl champions.