The Tennessee Titans are coming off a highly successful campaign that saw them make an impressive run to the AFC championship game. That has shifted their attention over to a crucial offseason with several prominent questions concerning the future of their backfield with both quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, each seeing their respective deals expire. However, the Titans have moved quickly to ink Tannehill to a new lucrative contract before the start of free agency, which will have a significant impact on how Henry’s talks with the team will play out.
Titans sign Ryan Tannehill to a new deal
In the weeks leading to free agency, the Titans have been heavily rumored to have some keen interest in signing star quarterback Tom Brady.
All of that chatter was put to bed on Sunday after the team agreed to a new lucrative deal with Tannehill on a four-year, $118 million deal. The contract reportedly includes $91 million in total guarantees and $62 million in fully guaranteed money.
After taking over the starting spot, Tannehill was a huge bright spot last season as he helped the Titans get into the playoffs after leading the team to a 7-3 record over the final 10 regular-season games. During that span, he held a career-high 117.5 passer rating along with 22 touchdowns to six interceptions.
His presence under center brought forth steadiness for the offense that allowed Henry to further excel in the running game. Although his production in the playoffs didn’t stand out, he helped guide them to an AFC Championship Game appearance. His new deal now moves the attention toward Henry‘s contract talks with the Titans.
Titans’ plan for Derrick Henry’s contract talks
The Titans have taken a significant step forward this offseason, which has at least secured the long-term future under center for the franchise.
Next on tap is Henry’s contract situation as he’s set to hit the free-agent market. The 26-year-old is coming off a career-best campaign that saw him post career highs with 1,540 rushing yards on 303 attempts and 16 rushing touchdowns. He continued that momentum into the playoffs as he was the first rushing champion in over two decades with a 100-yard rushing game. Henry was also the second player in NFL history with three playoff games with 150-plus rushing yards and the only player with back-to-back 175-plus rushing yard performances.
His production and bright future ahead has put him on track to receive a lucrative deal, but Ian Rapoport has reported that the team is planning to place the franchise tag on him. That will at least secure him under a deal through the 2020 season but also gives the team a longer window until mid-July to work out a new multi-year extension.
In the Titan’s perspective, it keeps their backfield together through another campaign, where they could have a chance to build off what they put forth last season.
Are the Titans making the right move?
Although the Titans highly value Henry, the NFL is a league driven by quarterback play to compete for a Super Bowl.
It’s no slight against the Alabama product, who has established himself as arguably the best running back in the league, but having stability at quarterback is crucial. Tannehill brings that, and having him under a relatively manageable deal in comparison to several other quarterbacks in the league is a huge benefit.
That allows them to secure the roster in other areas, such as keeping Henry long-term while adding more pieces to the puzzle. The Titans will shift their focus next to their Pro Bowl running back, which should be quite quick in what they have planned for his future with the franchise.