The Duel

Worrying Trend Could Make Derrick Henry's Contract a Dud

Jason Schandl
Derrick Henry's contract extension may have been an unwise move by the Titans.
Derrick Henry's contract extension may have been an unwise move by the Titans. / Tim Warner/Getty Images

Just ahead of Wednesday's deadline, the Tennessee Titans inked running back Derrick Henry to a big contract extension, giving Henry a four-year $50 million deal with $25.5 million in guaranteed money.

This deal may excite Titans fans, as they've locked up last year's leading rusher, but the recent trend in running back contracts suggests the extension could end up being a disaster.

The last seven running backs to sign a deal that included at least $20 million guaranteed at signing were Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson and Todd Gurley.

Barkley, McCaffrey and Zeke are all still playing at a high level (for now), but the other four deals all proved fairly disastrous.

It's easy to write some of those busts off as flukes because of injuries, but that's a part of what makes giving a running back a massive contract so risky. The position is one of the most prone to serious injuries, and RB's primes generally don't last very long.

Henry got off to a slow start to the 2019 season, and while he's shown lots of flashes through his NFL career, he really only has one season of elite-level production under his belt. That production also came with a ton of help from his offensive line, which ranked No. 4 in the NFL in Football Outsiders' "adjusted line yards" metric.

Of course, Henry may be one of those rare exceptions at the position that can keep up an elite level of play for many years. But gambling $25 million in guaranteed money on that outcome has typically proven to be a foolish move for NFL teams in recent years.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.