With Ryan Tannehill under contract, Titans use franchise tag on NFL rushing champ Derrick Henry

Signing Ryan Tannehill to a large contract extension had multiple benefits for the Tennessee Titans.

They had their quarterback under contract for 2020 and beyond, and they could use the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry.

Henry, the NFL’s rushing champion last season, will get the franchise tag according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

That also could set up a standoff between the team and Henry, who likely would have been happier hitting the open market after a remarkable finish to last season.

Derrick Henry coming off monster season

When the Titans finally figured out they should use Henry, he flourished.

Henry, a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, ran for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, leading the NFL in both categories. He rushed for 182 and 195 yards in the Titans’ first two playoff games, as Tennessee beat New England and Baltimore to advance to the AFC Championship game.

Henry led the NFL with 303 carries and added another 83 in the playoffs, which is generally a warning sign for running backs. Which is why a one-year franchise-tag deal isn’t ideal for Henry.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) got the franchise tag. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Titans want to keep momentum

Tennessee finished last season on a nice roll, making the playoffs and then scored two huge postseason wins. They fell short against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game, but there was a lot to feel good about.

Tannehill’s deal will be debated, but the team had to gamble that his excellent 2019 season was his new level. And considering how great Henry was, the team clearly wanted to get him back in the fold too.

If Tannehill doesn’t turn into Case Keenum after one great year and Henry is happy with his contract situation, the Titans could pick up where they left off. Making Henry happy with his deal might be a challenge, however.

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