Titans, Derrick Henry agree to contract before NFL deadline

Sports

FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry speaks during a media availabiltiy after of an NFL divisional playoff football game, in Baltimore. The Titans face a deadline Wednesday afternoon, July 15, 2020, of reaching an extension with NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry or let him play this season under the franchise tag he signed in April. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have made sure that the NFL rushing leader is sticking around for a few more years.

The Titans announced Wednesday they had agreed on a “multiyear extension” with Derrick Henry just before the NFL deadline for a long-term deal to avoid the running back having to play this season under the franchise tag.

Henry reportedly received a four-year deal for $50 million with $25.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.com.

The Titans faced a deadline of 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday to sign Henry to an extension or let him play this season for the $10.2 million due under the franchise tag he signed April 2. They could have tagged him again for 2021 for 120 percent of his pay this season.

General manager Jon Robinson has said for months that he wanted to keep Henry on the roster past this season with a longer contract.

Tennessee already signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year deal worth $118 million in March before free agency started.

Safety Kevin Byard had a simple tweet of a crown emoji in celebration for his teammate called “King Henry”.

The Titans know all too well Henry’s value.

He led the NFL with 1,540 yards rushing last season with 303 carries — both career highs. He ran 83 more times in the postseason. He also became the first player in NFL history to run for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games, a streak started in the regular-season finale, running the Titans to their first AFC championship game in 17 years.

Henry brings size and power at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds. He’s also fast once he finds room to run, clocked hitting 20.7 mph on his 66-yard run against Baltimore in the divisional round.

He also has an NFL-best seven touchdowns, five rushing and two receiving, of 65 yards or longer over the past three seasons. That’s two more than Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill in that span. Henry is second only to Todd Gurley (29) with 28 rushing TDs over the past two seasons.

The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner benefited from backing up DeMarco Murray his first two seasons, and he only had 215 carries in 2018. He was cheap too through the first four seasons as the Titans’ third pick in the second round of the 2016 draft. He has 3,833 yards rushing and 38 TDs in 62 games played in his four NFL seasons.

But Henry also has not caught more than 18 passes in a single season, which has limited him on third down. That also had him well below the receptions by running backs such as Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara or Le’Veon Bell last season.

The Titans are scheduled to report for training camp July 26, and they are scheduled to open the season Sept. 14 at Denver.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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