Extending Titans' Derrick Henry doesn't make sense right now. Here's why

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Welcome to Talkin' Titans. This is Tennessee Titans beat reporter Ben Arthur. In today's newsletter, I offer my thoughts on the report about the Titans being open to an extension for Derrick Henry.

When Derrick Henry fractured his foot in October, an injury that sidelined him for more than two months, many NFL observers proclaimed the end of the Titans’ 2021 season — that there was no way Tennessee, atop the AFC standings at the time, could survive without its engine and remain a serious contender.

But the Titans finished 6-3 to clinch the AFC’s top seed. The run game stayed afloat with a committee approach led by D’Onta Foreman, who had three 100-yard rushing games in the last six weeks of the season.

Foreman had been signed as a street free agent, two days after Henry’s injury, and flourished.

It’s part of the reason why an extension for Henry doesn’t make sense.

ESPN reported last week that the Titans “are at least open” to the possibility of a new deal for the two-time Pro Bowler, who has two years remaining on his contract.

Henry will be 29 before the end of the 2022 season. He plays a short shelf-life position. He’s coming off the first major injury of his career. And the Titans have proof their run-first scheme can be successful without him. It makes no sense to consider extending him right now.

The report argued a Henry extension could do two things:

  • Lessen his cap hit over the next two seasons ($15 million and $15.5 million)

  • Give the Titans an out of his contract if he declines in his 30s

But Tennessee already has an out on his current deal. If Henry isn’t the same player in 2022, they could cut him after the season and save $12.5 million in cap space.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) leaves the field after losing to the Bengals during the AFC divisional playoff game at Nissan Stadium Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) leaves the field after losing to the Bengals during the AFC divisional playoff game at Nissan Stadium Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn.

Henry could earn his way into a new deal. He could have a monster comeback season. He could show the Titans they’re better off with him than without. That he’s still King Henry.

But as things stand now, the Titans are well-positioned to move on after 2022 or 2023, when his contract expires.

Dontrell Hilliard, who helped Foreman bolster the run game in Henry's absence, re-signed with the team. Running back Hassan Haskins, with four years of control on a low-cost rookie deal, was drafted in the fourth round.

There’s wisdom in avoiding extending Henry entirely.

There’s even more wisdom in at least seeing him play next season before coming to the bargaining table.

Any questions or inquiries about the Titans' offseason? Send me a note. I'd be happy to answer. My email is BArthur@tennessean.com.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Extension for Titans' Derrick Henry doesn't make sense. Here's why