Derrick Henry’s days in Tennessee are done

Image for article titled Derrick Henry all but confirmed his future following Tennessee’s win over Jacksonville

Photo: Wesley Hitt (Getty Images)

Titans running back Derrick Henry arrived in Tennessee in 2016 as a second-round pick following an incredible career playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. Henry has topped the 1,000-yard mark in five of his eight seasons with the team and became the eighth player in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards in a season. However, with all the accolades on his resume, all good things must come to an end, it looks like Henry has come to the end of the line in Nashville.

“Thank you for the greatest eight years of my life.” – Derrick Henry

We’ve heard the rumors all season and there was even talk of teams potentially lining up to make a move for Henry at the trade deadline a couple of months ago. Obviously, that deadline came and went without a deal involving Henry but after the heartfelt goodbye on Sunday, the inevitable feels like it’s about to happen in Tennessee.

Henry hit a big milestone for NFL running backs last week. He’s now on the downside of 30 years old, which is usually the age at which most franchises choose to no longer shell out big bucks for running backs. In a league that has devalued that position for years, once a RB hits thirty, they are expected to decline in production – and ultimately compensation.

Even if a player is still considered a factor (like Henry) teams tend to get antsy once said player creeps toward 30. Henry rushed for over 1,500 yards in 2022 but barely topped 1,000 this season. But when your attempts are reduced that’s what happens. This decline in production wasn’t as much about King Henry taking a step back, it was about the Titans pushing him back. Henry suited up for 16 games in each of the past two campaigns, yet in ’23 his number was called 88 fewer times than the previous year.

Despite Henry rushing for 153 yards against the Jags on Sunday, Tennessee is ready to move in a new direction. Henry may not be the back he was a couple of years ago (although you couldn’t tell in the season finale) but in the right situation, he could put a team over the top. The Dallas Cowboys were a name that kept popping up the first half of the season regarding Henry. Those rumors will likely begin to surface again once the postseason has concluded. Tony Pollard’s first year as the full-time starter wasn’t exactly what was expected, and adding Henry as a one-two punch in Dallas’ backfield could be a scary complement to that explosive passing game.

Whatever the future holds for Henry, it seems he’s played his last game as a Tennessee Titan. He’ll have plenty of options coming off back-to-back campaigns where Henry missed just two games. Some lucky team is about to hit the jackpot this offseason and for much less than what the Titans were paying. 

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