Titans, Henry Talking, 'Conversations Have Been Positive'
Whether or not running back Derrick Henry will be under contract when the Tennessee Titans open training camp is not a concern.
Just how much money he'll be making – and just how long he'll be tied to the team -- remain significant questions as the Titans approach a significant July 15 date.
General manager Jon Robinson said Thursday that talks continue between the sides as they seek agreement on a multi-year deal. Henry has already signed the team's franchise-tag offer, meaning he's currently under contract for 2020 at $10.3 million.
But the Titans and Henry have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract before it becomes official that 2019 rushing champion will play for the tag value this season.
“We had a phone call last week and a phone call the week before that,” Robinson said. “We just kind of continue to work through things. The conversations have been positive between me and the reps there.
“Again, just trying to find some common ground. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Derrick is an important part of what we do. Just trying to find a spot where we all need to be and where we all want to be.”
As matters stand now, Henry's $10.3 million salary next year would rank fifth in terms of running backs' average salaries, per Spotrac.com. Carolina's Christian McCaffery tops the list at $16 million next season, followed by Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott ($15 million), the Jets' Le'Veon Bell ($13.1 million) and Houston's David Johnson ($13 million).
Henry's average salary would rank sixth on the Titans, behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill, tackle Taylor Lewan, safety Kevin Byard, cornerback Malcolm Butler and guard Rodger Saffold.
A former Heisman Trophy winner, Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season.
Robinson said he's seen no signs from Henry that uncertainty over his upcoming deal has affected his offseason preparation.
“I think that Derrick's approach to how he prepares -- he's been that way since he was at 'Bama, probably high school – he's a tireless worker,” Robinson said. “He's been engaged in the meetings. He wants to get something done. We want to get something done and we're working towards that.
“Again, like I stated earlier, it's about coming to that common ground spot, as it is in every negotiation. We're anxious to keep the conversations going and keep talking through things.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel complimented the growth Henry has shown as a leader in his four seasons in the league. He was disappointed the team's younger players didn't get a chance to follow Henry's example in-person during offseason workouts.
“I think that the leadership is something that he'll continue to develop. It's hard in a virtual setting,” Vrabel said. “It's very difficult because there are some guys that during those offseason OTAs and Phase One and Phase Two, that's when they're conditioning. Guys see how hard they work and how committed they are to taking care of their body and the nutrition.
“That's probably something Derrick would (excel) in and which he has done in the past. Maybe not the biggest vocal leader, but I think he does a great job of leading by example when he's here. Those are things we're going to have to get back to when we get back to training camp.”