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A report surfaced Monday that the Tennessee Titans are shopping running back Derrick Henry in a trade. Whether or not that’s true, who knows. But they definitely should NOT try to trade him.
Here’s why: I don’t think he has much trade value.
Derrick Henry is an excellent NFL running back, but he’s 29 years old. He’s 123 touches away from 2,000 in his career, including 1,750 carries.
Only Mark Ingram and Zeke Elliott have more carries among active players. And both of those players are clearly on the backend of their careers.
Like it or not, so is Henry. From 2018-2020, Henry averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Over the last two seasons, he’s fallen to 4.4. Still respectable, but trending downward.
And, he doesn’t seem to get as much respect from other NFL players as you might think. Based on the NFLPA All-Pro Team (as voted on by the players), Henry didn’t rank in the Top 5 among running backs in 2022.
The one positive in Henry’s game is that he caught 33 passes in 2022. In today’s NFL, backs need to catch passes and prior to this season Henry never had more than 19 grabs in a season.
Derrick Henry means more to the Titans than he would to another team
But that doesn’t outweigh the issues here. Henry has one year left on a contract extension signed prior to the 2020 season. He’s going to want a new contract, and he’s not taking a discount since he likely only has one NFL contract left.
Paying a 30-year-old running back after the upcoming season doesn’t make sense for most teams.
So, to recap, you get Derrick Henry for one season — his age-29 season where he’ll reach 2,000 NFL touches (not to mention the 600 carries he got at Alabama) — and then you’d have to pay him or let him walk.
That doesn’t scream high value as a trade piece. Then, there’s the matter of what Tennessee gains from trading Henry. And the answer is … not all that much, honestly.
If the Titans trade him before June 1, they save about $6 million in cap space. But, they’d have to eat $10 million in dead cap. If they trade him after June 1, about half of that dead space goes against the 2024 salary cap, giving them $11 million in relief for 2023.
It seems unlikely they’d want to push any dead cap space to 2024 that late in the offseason, which brings us back to today’s report. Essentially, Tennessee has to figure out if saving $6 million in cap space and getting a mid-to-late round pick in the NFL Draft is worth trading Derrick Henry.
Maybe a desperate team comes in with a good offer, in which case of course the Titans should listen. They should take a second-round pick in heartbeat, for example. I just don’t think that’s an option for most teams.
With seemingly no other reasons to go to a Titans game next season — as they unload all of their veterans to begin the rebuild — I say hang onto the “King” for another year, sell some tickets and let him walk next offseason.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ