Whether you think Derrick Henry is a Hall of Famer or “just” a great running back, you know that the Tennessee Titans are better off with him than without him.
After rumors of Henry wanting a new deal emerged this offseason, the Tennessee Titans did right by their star running back with a new extension that ups his 2022 money to $14 million.
Now that Derrick Henry is going to make more money than any other running back in the NFL in 2022, the Titans have made a fixture of their offense happy but at what cost?
According to the report, Henry’s new deal/extension includes two voidable years at the end of the deal in order to stretch out his new signing bonus. So his signing bonus ($9 million) will be prorated over the next four years.
The best way to summarize the new deal is that it gets Henry his money immediately while also lowering his 2022 cap hit. According to Mike Herndon, the “extension” also nearly guarantees that Henry will be on the roster in 2023 and beyond because the cap benefit of cutting him goes from $12.5 million to $3.5 million next year.
Derrick Henry’s deal points to new contracts for young talent
Since this deal opens up a little over $5 million in cap space in 2022, there are two things that this could mean.
The first is that the Titans could be looking to add another receiver to the roster. Signing someone like Odell Beckham would make sense and so would trading for someone like Terrace Marshall, Darius Slayton, or Denzel Mims.
That probably isn’t what this deal is for though, the most likely reason for this cap-shifting move is that it will allow them to seriously consider signing a young player to an extension before the season starts.
Amani Hooker, Nate Davis, and David Long Jr. are all set to be free agents after the end of the year, and locking up one of those three would help clarify the team’s needs going into the season.
The elephant in the room is the impending Jeffery Simmons extension. Normally Simmons would have to wait until next year to get a new deal, but he is one of the best players in the NFL and he has met or exceeded every expectation the Titans could have had for him.
The longer the Titans wait, the more expensive that deal will get and he is one of the cornerstones of the future of this team.
Giving him a big signing bonus that can mitigate the cap hit that would come with a new deal and you can really minimize the cap hit if you can stretch the signing bonus over an additional year.
No matter what the Titans do with that money, Derrick Henry’s new deal means that he is probably going to be on the roster for at least a few more seasons. Even if you are a Tennessee Titans fan that is against paying running backs, Henry has made a career on being the exceptions to rules and that shouldn’t change in 2022.