Titans use franchise tag on NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry

Sports

FILE — In this Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry sits on the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston. The Tennessee Titans have tagged Henry as their franchise player, making sure they keep the NFL rushing leader around for at least this season. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, File)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have tagged Derrick Henry as their franchise player, making sure they keep the NFL rushing leader around for at least this season.

The Titans on Monday used the nonexclusive franchise tag on Henry. That means Henry still can receive offers from other teams, with the Titans able to match or receive two first-round draft picks. The Titans also have until July 15 to sign Henry to a long-term deal, or he will be paid $10.2 million in 2020.

The move comes a day after the franchise agreed to a four-year, $118 million deal with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, keeping the Titans’ top offensive players together.

Not everyone agreed with the Titans’ decisions.

“Damn they paid the QB but the RB who made the QB job 75% lighter he don’t get no love,” Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu wroteon Twitter. “Boy it’s cold, thank God that man come from a good family.”

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards rushing on 303 attemptsfor a 4.8-yard average. He also tied for the league lead with 16 touchdown runs during the regular season with Aaron Jones of Green Bay. He earned his first Pro Bowl appearance.

But the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry most showed his value as he ran for at least 100 yards seven times over the final six weeks of the regular season and in three playoff games. Henry became the first to rush for at least 180 yards in three straight games over the regular season or postseason.

He currently ranks third in NFL history averaging 126 yards rushing in the postseason.

This is the first chance for Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, at a big contract. He was theTitans’ third pick in the second round at No. 45 overall in 2016, and he is coming off his best season yet.

This is the first time the Titans have used the franchise tag since 2012, when they tagged safety Michael Griffin before agreeing to a five-year contract in June. Before that, tight end Bo Scaife was tagged in 2009 after defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth played under the tag in 2008. The then-Tennessee Oilers also used the franchise tag on safety Blaine Bishop in 1997.

The decision to tag Henry also means that right tackle Jack Conklin is poised to hit free agency when the market opens Wednesday. The Titans chose not to pick up the fifth-year option for the eighth overall draft pick in 2016 last year after Conklin was limited to nine games in 2018 by knee injuries.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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