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Inside the Derrick Henry deal

Titans running back Derrick Henry was due to earn $10.278 million in 2020 under the franchise tag. On Wednesday, he traded in a $10.278 million bird in the hand for a guaranteed $25.5 million.

Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Henry will be fully guaranteed to make $25.5 million over the next two years, in the form of a $12 million signing bonus, a $3 million fully-guaranteed base salary for 2020, and a $10.5 million fully-guaranteed base salary for 2021.

Henry is due to make $12 million in 2022 and $12.5 million in 2023. Those amounts are non-guaranteed.

If the Titans had tagged Henry again in 2021, he would have made $22.6 million over the next two years. For a running back with a bruising style who was on the field for only 59 percent of the snaps in 2019, that quite likely would have been a big if.

Instead, he gets $2.9 million more than the two-year franchise-tag total, with a full guarantee.

And if Henry hadn’t been tagged next year, how much would he have gotten on the open market? The current trend in the NFL seems to be that running backs don’t get big money from a team other than the team that drafted them.

Throw in the difficulties arising from the pandemic (with the possibility of a reduced cap in 2021), and it becomes even smarter for Henry to take the $25.5 million.

So it’s a great deal for Henry, given the realities of his position and the the uncertainties of the ongoing virus outbreak.


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