NASHVILLE — Derrick Henry wanted the assurance of a long-term contract with the Tennessee Titans rather than risk playing this season under the franchise tag, and the NFL rushing leader said his new deal is a win-win for him and the team.
Helping the Titans create some extra room under the salary cap to possibly add someone like Jadeveon Clowney will be a big bonus in the negotiations for Henry.
“If it gives us more room to bring in somebody else to help this team, then I’m all for it,” Henry said Thursday. “Anytime you can improve your team at a position that we need it’s always a big benefit. Hopefully my deal possibly did that. Hopefully we can bring in somebody that can help this team and improve us more.”
Henry talked with reporters Thursday in a video teleconference a day after he and the Titans agreed to an four-year extension worth $50 million with $25.5 million guaranteed. Both sides had talked for months, even before the Titans applied the franchise tag, and through the past week.
Yet the deal wasn’t completed until a couple hours before the NFL deadline.
“We’ve all been watching, seeing it all over everywhere about the COVID and all the uncertainties, I just felt like it made sense, we felt like it made sense,” said Henry, who became a father this off-season with the birth of his daughter. “I was glad to be able to lock this up and get it over with.”
With Henry’s deal now complete, the Titans added approximately $4 million of room under the salary cap. Tennessee currently ranks fifth in the NFL for most cap space with Spotrac.com estimating the Titans with $24.1 million in space trailing Cleveland, Washington, Miami and Cincinnati.
Clowney reportedly wants to join a team in position to compete for a championship. The Titans fit that having posted four straight 9-7 seasons, the NFL’s fourth-longest active winning streak behind only the Patriots, Seahawks and Chiefs. They’re also coming off their first AFC championship game appearance in 17 years.
Coach Mike Vrabel was the Texans’ defensive co-ordinator in 2017 when Clowney played all 16 games for the only time in his career.
General manager Jon Robinson has made clear the Titans, who tied for 13th with 43 sacks last season, are interested in Clowney. Henry said Clowney is a great player who’s been playing at a high level for a while.
“If he wants to come to Tennessee we definitely would welcome him with open arms,” Henry said. “Hopefully, if they are talking, we can get something done and he can come join us. We definitely would love to have him, and he could help us in a big way.”
The Titans are scheduled to report for training camp July 28.