Derrick Henry to reportedly sign to 2-year, $16M deal with Ravens

There aren’t many players in NFL history like Derrick Henry.

Henry has been one of the fastest backs in the NFL and happened to be 247 pounds. He could run over you, by you or both.

Henry was also remarkably durable given his workload. Aside from the 2021 season, when injuries limited him to eight games, he rarely missed time during his eight seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

That also meant a lot of carries on Henry’s odometer, which made him a tough call in free agency.

But the Baltimore Ravens are in on Henry. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Ravens are signing Henry to a two-year, $16 million deal that can be worth up to $20 million, with $9 million guaranteed. Finally, Lamar Jackson gets to play alongside a star running back.

Henry appeared to confirm the news on social media.

The one sure thing is that Henry can prepare for plenty more carries in 2024.

Derrick Henry has been one of NFL's best

It took a while for the Tennessee Titans to figure out what they had with Henry, even though he was a Heisman Trophy winner and a second-round pick. Near the end of Henry’s third season, the Titans finally started leaning on him and he became a huge star.

The two seasons after that, Henry led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns. In 2020 he rushed for 2,027 yards and won NFL Offensive Player of the Year. The Titans kept giving him carries because it seemed the defenders trying to tackle Henry were taking on a lot more punishment than their running back.

Henry led the NFL in rushing attempts in four of his last five seasons. The one season he didn’t lead the NFL in rushing attempts, he was averaging a career high 27.4 carries per game but played in just eight games due to injury. In a world of running back committees, Henry was an old school workhorse.

Henry showed some signs of slowing down last season. He averaged 68.6 yards per game, almost 30 per game fewer than the season before and his lowest total as a full-time starter in the NFL. He still had 1,167 yards and averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry, even though that tied the low mark of his career.

Entering his age-30 season, with 2,030 regular-season rushing attempts in his NFL career, teams couldn’t expect that they would be vying for vintage Henry who could post a 2,000-yard season.

But he should still have enough left to be a valuable piece in the short term. The Ravens are betting on it.

Derrick Henry has 9,502 career rushing yards and 90 career rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Derrick Henry has 9,502 career rushing yards and 90 career rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ravens add an elite RB

The Ravens have generally relied on low-cost running backs in the Lamar Jackson era. It has either been players like Gus Edwards and Alex Collins, or trying to squeeze one more year out of veterans like Mark Ingram, Devonta Freeman or Latavius Murray. J.K. Dobbins couldn't stay healthy and be the star the Ravens were hoping for.

Henry might end up going into that category of veterans who are over the hill and don't give the Ravens a prime performance. Maybe the best-case scenario is replicating what Ingram — like Henry, also a former Heisman winner from Alabama — did when he rushed for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018 at age 30.

But if the prime Henry who ran over AFC South defenses for years shows up for one more season, it could transform the Ravens offense. Maybe we're about to see what Jackson, the greatest running quarterback in NFL history, can do when he has a top-tier running back to take some pressure off him.