48 hour clock on Derrick Henry and Titans potential deal

48 hours until the Titans lose an option.

The Tennessee Titans made the decision to franchise tag Derrick Henry before free agency started and now they need to figure out the next step.

Obviously the Titans have been considering this for a long time, but with the potential cap change coming in 2021, the future is a lot murkier now than it was six months ago. Things have changed and with that change comes some uncertainty around the future of one of Tennessee’s brightest stars.

I should say, that the Titans absolutely made the right move giving Ryan Tannehill the contract that they did and that is even more true now because with the cost of QBs rising at the same time as the cap questions start to emerge for every team, I don’t know how the Titans could have given him a new contract today.

However, running back is a different issue. If the Titans wanted to pay Derrick Henry like a top-3 running back then it would probably mean Henry getting about $15 million of average value over the next three or four years.

Now, theoretically, this is a perfect chance for Derrick Henry to get some guarantees in the third and fourth years of his contract in exchange for reducing his salary cap hit over the next two years. If there is wiggle room to be had in this new contract, that is the exchange that needs to be made.

If that doesn’t change then we are looking at a new deal for Henry either this year or next year that comes with the reality of other starters losing their jobs.

That is the cost of having an expensive running back in the NFL today, and I am not saying that I want to see that happen. What I am saying is that any possibility of paying both Henry and Tannehill what they want without any ramifications went out the door as soon as this second wave of the virus hit.

With the deadline to agree on a deal less than 48 hours away, not only does Derrick Henry have his eyes on a new deal but players like Malcolm Butler, Ben Jones and Kenny Vaccaro have to all have an eye on this as well considering their cap hits in 2020. Beyond that, it may be time to call Taylor Lewan and Kevin Byard to see if there is a deal to be made that reduces their cap hits while giving them more guaranteed money (both are scheduled to have just 52% of their contracts guaranteed next year.

A lot about what the Titans future may look like is tied to Wednesday’s decision or lack thereof so don’t expect all sides to end up happy here.