Derrick Henry is being “shopped” by the Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Florida Times-Union)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Florida Times-Union) /

Despite being a team that continues to emphasize the importance of the running game, the Tennessee Titans are trying to trade one of the best running backs in franchise history.

Going into the NFL Combine there were reports that Derrick Henry was quietly being discussed in trade conversations. Well, those conversations have gotten a lot louder over the last week.

The most recent rumor comes from Mike Silver.

In that article about the future of Aaron Rodgers, Silver brought up Derrick Henry, Jalen Ramsey, and DeAndre Hopkins as players who were being “shopped” at the NFL Combine.

The exact quote also mentions that this isn’t rumbling from agents, this is information coming from active GMs.

"“According to my sources — all of them current general managers — Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins are among the players who’ve been shopped in recent days.”"

How realistic is this for the Tennessee Titans?

If teams were just calling the Titans about Derrick Henry, it would be one thing. The interesting part of this is that the phrasing suggests that these aren’t just inquiries from other teams, these are conversations. Not only that, but they are conversations that the Tennessee Titans might be initiated.

The word “shopping” makes it sound like they are going from team to team and trying to figure out how real the interest is across the league. The question that Titans fans need to start asking is how much could Tennessee get back in a trade?

People are going to bring up that the San Francisco 49ers traded a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and a future 5th-round pick for Christian McCaffrey at the trade deadline last year. The Tennessee Titans won’t get that kind of return for two reasons.

The 49ers have McCaffrey under contract for three more years with no guaranteed money according to Over The Cap. This means that the second they feel like he isn’t a factor anymore, they can cut him without any dead money.

Someone trading for Derrick Henry would have to decide on a fair value for a new contract after this season since he is in the final year of his contract.

That goes hand-in-hand with the other big factor, which is age. McCaffrey will be 27 this season and he is two and a half years younger than Derrick Henry. The rate of decline for running backs in the NFL hits a steep decline around 30 years old, and while Henry trains like someone who could keep outrunning Father Time, no one can know how long that will last.

Henry will probably still be worth a second-round pick, but anyone who is expecting more than that should prepare to be disappointed.

If the Tennessee Titans are going to trade Ryan Tannehill, it makes sense to trade Derrick Henry as well. I know fans want to cling to the idea that Derrick Henry will be a good safety blanket for a rookie quarterback, but what if the rookie QB fits better into an offense that runs out of the shotgun? Or what if he does better running plays out of empty? Or if he doesn’t do well in an offense that uses two tight ends? Or a dozen other variables where a rookie and Henry might not mesh together as well as it sounds on paper?

The fact is that if you are restarting at quarterback, you are restarting across the board. That is the signal to get rid of any older players that have value so that you can invest in young players whose best years should align with your rookie quarterback. Otherwise, you aren’t giving the most important asset on your roster the best chance to succeed.