Potential deal: 1 year/$12.5 million (franchise tag projection)
Look, I know that Derrick Henry is a unique case because of his workload limitations during his time in the NFL and the sheer fact that the NFL hasn’t seen anyone built quite like him. There is really no way to know what he can and will do going forward because there is no one-to-one comparison to make with him.
However, history has shown that the peak age for a running back is somewhere between 25-27 years old and Henry just turned 26 years old a few weeks ago.
I think he is absolutely worth the franchise tag and if the Titans wanted to throw a few more million on there as easy intensives to make him the highest paid RB in the NFL next year, I would be on board for that too.
The problem is Titans fans can get so sentimental because of just how few dominant skill position players that we have seen in franchise history. But take Chris Johnson as the perfect example of how great things don’t always last forever.
In 2011, Chris Johnson was 26 years old and had his worst rushing season in total yards and second worst yards per attempt with the Tennessee Titans despite being two years removed from his 2,000 yard season and having fewer rushing attempts than any other year in Nashville aside from his rookie season.
Looking at touches, Derrick Henry has 923 rushing attempts in his career which is just 13 less than Chris Johnson had before his 2011 season. So while that argument makes sense in the memories of Titans fans, it doesn’t hold up in this situation.
I truly hope Derrick Henry is the exception and not the rule, but paying running backs in their second contract is just such a risky proposition.