This isn’t a hot take, but I don’t think anyone has actually thought about what Derrick Henry might get on the open market.
Last year the Tennessee Titans offense was built off of Derrick Henry running the ball until defenses respected him, then Ryan Tannehill coming in and hitting the explosive chunk plays.
That strategy got the Titans to a cold weather game in Kansas City to play for a shot at the Super Bowl, but ultimately the cold weather and a fast offense sent them home.
The debate rages on with Titans fans on whether they should side with history and not sign Derrick Henry to a long term deal (because long running back deals very rarely work out) or if they should use that money elsewhere I try to find a new running back.
No matter which side you fall on, you have to know a number before you make your decision. If you look at PFF’s projections for Derrick Henry, they have him at 4 years, $44 million.
With an $11 million per year AAV, that would make the 5th highest paid player at his position. That feels like a steal right? If that is the going rate then sign me up.
Well, Kelly is a free agent so what will he cost? Not a lot right? Wrong.
I say that because of recent news of what another fringe starter caliber offensive tackle is going to make.
The Eagles have their starters in Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson, so they don’t need to keep Halapoulivaati Vaitai around as a backup. The long time third tackle for the Eagles is 3 years younger than Kelly, but he probably has more bad tape out there than Kelly does.
If the league views Vaitai and Kelly as similar players (which they absolutely should) that means that both will probably make similar contracts with whoever gets signed second getting more money.
There is a strong chance that with the desperate need for offensive tackles around the league, that Kelly and Vaitai both end up making $12 million per year on 3+ year deals.
So, to go back to the headline of this article that means that in free agency Kelly would likely be worth more than Derrick Henry. At the very least it means that he will make more than Henry.
If that is the case then two things become abundantly clear.
1. The Titans need to franchise tag Jack Conklin who would be a steal at that price.
2. Derrick Henry is going to be underpaid and it makes more sense to sign a stellar running back for two more good years, than to pay an average tackle that sort of money.