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Home » Analysis of Potential Tennessee Titans Trade of Derrick Henry

Analysis of Potential Tennessee Titans Trade of Derrick Henry

07 March 2023, Tuesday

It seems almost inconceivable, yet reports from Bally Sports' Michael Silver have indicated that Tennessee Titans GM Ran Carthon has had discussions about potentially trading star running back Derrick Henry. According to Silver's sources - who are current NFL GMs - Henry is included in a report that also discusses Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as being players who were pondered for trading at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

It would be difficult to fathom a more shocking move than trading away the seven-year cornerstone of the Titans' franchise and key figure to the team's physical, hard-nosed identity - especially considering he just racked up 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing. Indeed, trading away Henry would be akin to McDonald's trading Ronald McDonald to Arby's for a packet of Horsey Sauce and some meats to be named later. Such a move is exceptionally rare.

It's hard to imagine the Titans would move on from Henry shortly after trading away A.J. Brown, yet there are some sound reasons for this if it becomes their course of action. Here are the pros and cons should the Titans decide to trade Henry this offseason. Henry is an experienced veteran with an expiring contract, who plays at a non-premium position and is nearly 30 years old. The Titans could save $6.3 million by dealing him prior to June 1, which is the type of decision that Carthon has routinely made. Erasing sentimentality from the debate, it is a plausible option for the team.

Henry's contract is set to end following the upcoming season. If the Titans choose to let him go, they might receive a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick in the draft. However, the Titans would doubtless receive a better return should they opt to trade Henry now.

The reliance on Henry offensively may be hampering the team somewhat. His ability to handle the ball 30 times in a game makes it hard to deviate from that strategy. If the running game isn't productive, the Titans can struggle to adjust in other areas. It is unclear whether this is due to coaching or Henry himself, but it might be beneficial to try to spread the load across other players.

Derrick Henry is a unique running back. He routinely produces 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns in a season, something few backs have done as often as he has throughout their career - Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson are the only two to do it more times than him. Even with a subpar offensive line and injuries in 2020, Henry still managed to put up these impressive numbers. Given his production, it would be unlikely for the Titans to find a free agent running back who could produce for the same price as Henry - $6 million. This would mean less money to improve other parts of the roster.

Everyone in football is aware that running backs aren't as valuable as they used to be. The Titans are trying to fool people into thinking it's a different era. The trade market for an older back who doesn't help much in the passing game likely wouldn't be as strong as Henry's reputation suggests.

Not only is Henry a great presence in Tennessee's locker room, but the offense is designed to play with him. Without him, there would be a big leadership gap and players whose roles wouldn't be as useful.

It doesn't make sense for a team to make all of its fans mad. After already dealing with one beloved young player last offseason, sending away Henry would just further alienate the followers. Teams often prioritize winning a Super Bowl, but having supporters in the stands is still important.

Carthon, the Tennessee Titans General Manager, has been exploring all of his options, even those that might shock loyal fans, such as trading their star running back Derrick Henry. The decision to pursue this would signal Carthon's willingness to tear down and rebuild in order to craft a new young core of stars to compete in an increasingly tough AFC.

All of this comes back to the Titans' goal: winning the AFC South and competing in the playoffs in 2023. If the goal is to win now, trading Henry would be unwise, as he is the most feared running back in football and has two or three unstoppable games every year that allow the Titans to win without having to throw.

However, if the goal is to build a strong roster for 2024 and beyond, trading Henry may be an acceptable evil. It would mean mortgaging next season and angering loyal fans, but it would also provide control of the return for a franchise cornerstone who is aging out of his prime.

At this point, rumors are just rumors. Whatever decision is made about Henry, it won't be done for the sake of doing it; the proposed return of any trade must be worthwhile. If not, Henry will be back in Nashville in 2023.
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