Titans running back Derrick Henry doesn’t appear to be close to an extension, but a number of factors could be affecting negotiations.
The Tennessee Titans and star running back Derrick Henry still appear to be far apart on an extension, according to ProFootballTalk’s Josh Alper, but a wide variety of extenuating factors are likely playing a role in holding up the deal.
While the two sides still have until July 15 to agree to a long-term extension, uncertainty surrounding the final salary cap number for the 2020 offseason is likely playing a substantial role in holding up negotiations.
With revenues expected to decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, many teams are waiting to sign their players to long-term extensions (Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs notwithstanding), as a decline in the salary cap could leave teams locked into bad deals.
Henry’s position only exacerbates concerns. Signing running backs to expensive, long-term deals has been detrimental for teams like the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals in the past, and handing Henry a significant portion of the cap could hinder Tennessee’s ability to sign free agents.
While Henry showed how dominant he can be in the final stretch of the 2019 season, running backs have shorter careers on average than almost every other position. As important as he is to the offense, locking Henry into a long-term deal would be irresponsible on Tennessee’s part.
Regardless of whether or not the two sides agree to an extension before July 15, fans should not be concerned. Henry is bound to the Titans by the franchise tag in 2020, giving the team a full season to continue negotiations. With Ryan Tannehill signed long-term and A.J. Brown still on his rookie deal, Henry will be the top priority on offense.
More likely than not, the difficulties in negotiations are simply a byproduct of coronavirus-related uncertainty. None of the 15 players who were franchise-tagged in 2020 have signed a long-term deal yet, meaning that Tennessee likely shares the same philosophy of waiting to have a clear picture of the upcoming cap number before pulling the trigger on an extension.