‘Final Prediction’ Has Bears Landing $50 Million, 2-Time Rushing Champ

Derrick Henry, Titans

Getty Running back Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.

The Chicago Bears are most likely in the market for a running back in free agency and a handful of viable options will become available early next week.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report on Saturday, March 9 predicted that the Bears will ultimately land on Derrick Henry, most recently of the Tennessee Titans.

The Bears have running backs Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer under contract, but Henry fits the team’s hard-nose culture and would bring a high level of physicality to the club’s offensive identity.

As a defensive coordinator, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus witnessed running back Jonathan Taylor help provide the Indianapolis Colts with an offensive identity. Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was on Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay’s staff when Todd Gurley put together peak performances to take pressure off 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

Eberflus and Waldron may believe that Henry, who won the 2019 and 2020 rushing titles, has enough in the tank to force opposing teams to stack the box, which would open up passing lanes for their quarterback.

Derrick Henry Projected to Land 2-Year Contract in Free Agency

Derrick Henry has been named a potential free agency option for the Dallas Cowboys.

GettyRunning back Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.

Henry will play next season at 30 years old and has led the league in carries four times in the last five years. He has also earned a spot in the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons and still ran hard toward 1,167 rushing yards and 12 TDs across 17 starts in 2023.

Henry led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2019 and 2020, earning All-Pro Selections in both campaigns. However, given his age and workload in recent years, a shorter contract is the likely outcome for Henry wherever he lands. Pro Football Focus (PFF) projects Henry’s market value at $18 million over a new two-year contract ($9 million).

Chicago can afford to absorb that kind of deal easily, as the team has more than $62.7 million in 2024 salary cap space as of Sunday. Henry, coming off of a four-year, $50 million contract in Tennessee, has also said one of his primary motivations is to win at the highest level before his career is over.

Bears Can Sell Derrick Henry on Chance to Win Using Houston Texans’ Turnaround as Model

CJ Stroud, Texans

GettyQuarterback CJ Stroud of the Houston Texans.

The Bears have two of the top nine picks in the top 10 of April’s draft, including the top overall selection, and the aforementioned $63 million in cap space. Contending for a Super Bowl may not be likely in the immediate future, though the Houston Texans offered a model of how to go from last place in the AFC to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs in one year by building a team around rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, who they selected first overall.

Most analysts project Chicago will select former Heisman Trophy winner and USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the first pick in roughly a month and a half. If they hang onto the No. 9 pick, the Bears will likely pursue a high-end wide receiver or edge rusher to complement either wideout DJ Moore or defensive end Montez Sweat, both of whom produced career seasons in 2023.

The Bears will presumably also trade QB Justin Fields for something like second-round value, which the team can use to build out its offensive line — where Chicago just traded for Ryan Bates — or the defensive backfield, where arguably the NFL’s best cornerback in Jaylon Johnson just signed a four-year deal.

Chicago won seven games last season, including four of its last six, which is considerably better than the three wins Houston posted the year prior. The Bears had a playoff-caliber defense by season’s end based on weighted DVOA, and are on the verge of drafting a player whose ceiling is the second-coming of three-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes.

Henry will have to choose Chicago over multiple other interested suitors, but it is a reasonable match that makes sense on paper and would probably make equal sense on the field.

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