Derrick Henry should get his deal done before Dalvin Cook

Derrick Henry and the Titans are talking about a long-term deal, but the running back’s camp should have some level of urgency.

Coming off leading the league in rushing last year, and a fantastic playoff run, the Tennessee Titans used the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry. He signed the tender, guaranteeing him $10.2 million this year, but talks about a multi-year deal have been ongoing.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson spoke positively on the status of those talks, as the July 15 deadline for a multi-year deal looms.

“He wants to get something done,” Robinson said. “We want to get something done, and we’re working toward that. It’s about coming to that common-ground spot as it is in every negotiation. We’re anxious to keep the conversations going and keep talking through things.”

Why Derrick Henry should get his deal done before Dalvin Cook

The running back position has been devalued, with the recent potholes of deals given to Todd Gurley, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell hurting those who are following on the road to getting paid.

Dalvin Cook is in a different situation than Henry, entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Vikings as a former second-round pick. A holdout doesn’t seem practical for Cook, with a new CBA hurting him if he stays away too long, but he has still threatened it. The Vikings can just hold their ground, and a deal will probably get done before training camp.

Similar to Cook with the Vikings, Henry is the centerpiece of the Titans’ offense. But while Cook is involved in the passing game and a dynamic threat in that area, Henry is not a prolific pass catcher (18 receptions on 24 targets for 206 yards last year). So any strict comparison of the two doesn’t fit.

Cook’s new deal is in line to put him in the top-5 among running backs in average annual value, somewhere in the $13 million per year range. Henry’s workload last year, with a league-high 303 carries in the regular season and 83 more totes in three playoff games, adds a measure of risk as the Titans consider paying him handsomely.

Nothing would stop either situation from being resolved in the meantime, but deadlines drive action. So it’s worth noting the July 15 deadline for Henry and the Titans to reach a multi-year agreement comes roughly two weeks before the Vikings and Cook theoretically should get a deal done.

From Henry’s side there’s a case for waiting to see what Cook gets, then his asking price would feel more concrete. Leaving aside that July 15 deadline though, Henry and his agent should be looking to get a deal done with the Titans as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean he should take less than what he’s worth, somewhere in the same range as what Cook will get, but there’s nothing wrong with getting something done ahead of the curve to give an old-school workhorse back some security.

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