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Titans Tag Derrick Henry

Non-exclusive franchise tender ensures a big raise for the 2019 NFL rushing champion

Derrick Henry is not going anywhere.

The Tennessee Titans have been unable to reach a long-term agreement with the NFL’s leading rusher last season. So, they used the non-exclusive franchise tag – on the last possible day to do so – and ensured that Henry would remain on the roster at least through 2020.

The team announced the move Monday morning.

The non-exclusive franchise tag guarantees a one-year contract worth no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position or 120 percent of his previous salary. It does allow the player to negotiate with other teams but the franchise that tagged him has the opportunity to match any offer he receives.

Henry earned $1.187 million in base salary last year. The non-exclusive franchise tag value for running backs in 2020 is $12,361 million.

The Titans still have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal with him. After that, he must play the season under the terms of the one-year franchise tag.

The move puts the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner alongside other notable players such as Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones, Tampa Bay linebacker Shaq Barrett and Arizona running back Kenyan Drake, a college teammate of Henry’s, whose teams blocked them from exploring the free agent market.

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It is the first time since Jon Robinson became general manager in 2016 that Titans have used the franchise tag.

“We haven’t had to use it before,” Robinson said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “… I think every scenario’s different. You have to handle it case-by-case.

“As a team builder, you want to try to keep as many good players on your team for a long period of time, as long as they’re still playing well, helping the team and they’re buying into what’s going on.”

Henry has consistently improved throughout his four years in the NFL. His number of carries and rushing yards increased each season, and he led the league with 303 attempts, 1,540 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season. His 446 rushing yards in the postseason made him the first player since 2005 to be the leading rusher in the regular season and the playoffs.

He also emerged as one of the team's unquestioned leaders late last season.

As a result, he is the first reigning rushing champion to receive a franchise tag.

“I think there’s a lot of good things we can build off of,” he told ESPN during the Pro Bowl. “I think this [season] is a big step in the right direction for this team and for this organization. … I love my teammates. I love the chemistry that we had throughout this whole season.

“… I’d definitely like to stay in Tennessee.”