Derrick Henry heading to Ravens is another sign running backs are valued – at the right price

Estimated read time 3 min read

Running backs continued to make strides in free agency Tuesday with four-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry agreeing to a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press.

Henry’s deal is worth up to $20 million and includes $9 million guaranteed.

The two-time NFL rushing champ joins a Baltimore team that annually produces one of the league’s leading ground games.

Henry’s jump from the Tennessee Titans, where he spent his first eight seasons, was among the biggest moves on the eve of the league’s new year, which officially begins at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

That’s when free agents can sign contracts they’ve agreed to over the NFL’s two-day legal tampering period.

Running backs have struggled to earn big money in recent years — to the point where Henry organized a group chat among top players at the position last summer. This year’s free agent class included Henry, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard, all of whom have found new homes during Monday’s free agency frenzy.

Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard were the three running backs franchise tagged a year ago at $10.1 million and none signed long-term deals with their teams by the July deadline. All three became free agents this year when their teams declined to franchise tag them again, this time at $12 million.

Henry turned 30 in January. The four-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in 2023 with 280 rushing attempts and ranked second to Christian McCaffrey with 1,167 yards rushing. His 12 rushing TDs were fourth in the AFC.

Henry leaves Tennessee ranked second in franchisee history with 9,502 rushing yards, trailing only Eddie George (10,009).

The Ravens finished with the NFL’s best regular-season record in 2023 before losing to Kansas City in the AFC championship game. Now they add another proven offensive playmaker to work alongside quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is coming off his second MVP season.

Baltimore was also able to reach a long-term deal with defensive tackle Justin Madubuike after putting the franchise tag on him. But the Ravens lost inside linebacker Patrick Queen to rival Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The Vikings added former Green Bay running back Aaron Jones and 2018 third overall draft pick Sam Darnold as a temporary replacement at quarterback for Kirk Cousins, whose departure to Atlanta was the biggest move of free agency.

Also Tuesday, the Browns agreed to a one-year deal with Jameis Winston to back up Deshaun Watson that’s worth up to $8.7 million, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The AP.

Joe Flacco, who went 4-1 and helped the Browns reach the playoffs last season after Watson was sidelined by a shoulder injury, didn’t receive a contract offer from the Browns, said his agent, Joe Linta.

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal with Miami after five seasons in Tampa Bay.

The Browns also agreed with former Buffalo Bills running back Nyheim Hines to a one-year deal worth up to $3.5 million, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the AP.

Hines, who also is a kick return specialist, was released by the Bills earlier this month. The seventh-year pro missed all of last season after a boating accident in which he suffered a torn ACL when he was struck by a jet skier in North Carolina.


AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.