Derrick Henry Sends Strong Message to Critics After Joining Ravens

Derrick Henry

Getty Derrick Henry delivered a strong message for his critics after joining the Baltimore Ravens.

Derrick Henry has warned his critics he’s not washed up after officially being unveiled as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The two-time NFL rushing champion left the Tennessee Titans and signed a “2-year, $16M deal worth up to $20M with $9M guaranteed” in 2024 NFL free agency, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Those terms represent a sizeable investment in a 30-year-old running back playing a position devalued in today’s game. Yet, anyone concerned about the wear and tear on Henry needn’t worry, according to the four-time Pro Bowler.

Henry made that clear when asked by reporters about his doubters on Thursday, March 14: “Tell them to keep watching.”

The statement was blunt and emphatic. Not unlike the rushing style that’s made Henry one of the most productive backs in the NFL during the last five seasons.

There’s clearly no worry from the Ravens about Henry still having some tread left on the tyres. General manager Eric DeCosta revealed he tried to acquire ‘King Henry’ last season.

Derrick Henry Ready to Refute Critics

Paying a running back entering his ninth season and with 2,030 carries already under his belt isn’t the norm in the modern NFL. Teams instead tend to move on from quality running backs at the fifth or sixth-year mark and look for alternatives in the middle rounds of the draft.

The Ravens are bucking that trend for the winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2020. That was the year Henry topped 2,000 yards rushing.

He hasn’t hit those heights again, but Henry has still averaged over 4 yards per carry every season since. The veteran also remains that rare thing. Notably, a true power back who still has the breakaway speed to stretch the field.

As DeCosta put it, Henry’s “kind of a unicorn,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Such a potent mix of attributes makes Henry a complete back. Something the Ravens haven’t had. Instead, they’ve relied on a committee of backs offering different traits.

It was supposed to work with J.K. Dobbins as the lead back, Gus Edwards as the short-yardage specialist and rookie Keaton Mitchell offering the breakaway threat. Injuries to Dobbins and later Mitchell wrecked the plan, while Edwards has bolted to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.

Now the Ravens have a true RB1. Or as DeCosta put it, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic: “This guy is a warrior. He’s right up there with the very best that we’ve ever had.”

Praise as lofty as that explains why DeCosta and the Ravens have been on Henry’s case for a while.

Eric DeCosta Tried to Trade for Derrick Henry

DeCosta finally got his man, but it took free agency to get it done. Things might have been different had the Ravens made any headway in trade talks with the Titans last season.

The Ravens “tried to trade for Derrick before the trade deadline” back on October 31, according to DeCosta. He admitted “there was a reasonable chance it would get done,” per Zrebiec.

Adding Henry during last season is a major what if moment for the Ravens. He could have been the final piece in an offense hamstrung by losing Dobbins to a torn Achilles and seeing Mitchell land on injured reserve after tearing his ACL.

Edwards and Justice Hill picked up the slack on the ground, while NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers made the Ravens more dynamic through the air. Henry would have been the other blue-chip playmaker needed to take attention away from Jackson.

That’s the theory now Henry is officially a Raven. Defenses won’t know who to plan for, Jackson or the All-Pro behind him.

It’s why Henry’s doubters should be careful about writing off his chances of continuing to dominate.

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