The Tennessee Titans have less than a week to negotiate a long-term contract with running back Derrick Henry, or the NFL's rushing leader will be playing on the franchise tag in 2020.
Henry signed his $10.278 million franchise tag tender in April, meaning the running back won't be missing any training camp time. General manager Jon Robinson noted last month the team was working towards a multi-year deal, but with six days left to get one done, time is running short.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Thursday on NFL Network's NFL NOW that patience is key in getting any long-term solution.
"Derrick signed his franchise tender, he's under contract," Vrabel said. "I know that Jon (Robinson) and (VP of football administration) Vin Marino have been in contact with his reps. Having been involved with the NFL for a lot of years, getting deals done is about being patient, hopefully keeping them private and confidential. So I'm going to try to respect that, and understand that we love Derrick and he understands how important he is to our football team. Again, his leadership that grew last year, I'm looking forward, I know our team is looking for more of that this year."
The Titans offense revolved around Henry in 2019, as the bruising runner led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns on 303 carries. He also added 446 yards and two TDs in three playoff games as Tennessee made a run to the AFC Championship Game.
A rumbling forklift, Henry takes advantage of lighter defenses that characterize modern teams. His 5.1 yards per carry led all backs who had at least 160 attempts. Henry's presence allows Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Titans offense to make splash plays by taking the bulk of the attention from the defense.
None of the 15 tagged players (franchise or transition) have landed a long-term contract thus far. The uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 have made most deals more difficult this offseason.
The Titans have insisted they're interested in keeping Henry around beyond 2020, but the running back market coupled with pandemic ramifications could ultimately stymie the process.
In six days, we'll find out whether Henry or any other tagged player gets the multi-year deal he's hoping for this year.