Jump to content
ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Ravens Insider: In ‘unicorn’ Derrick Henry, Ravens land the star running back they tried to trade for


ExtremeRavens

Recommended Posts

Derrick Henry has long been on Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta’s mind.

On Thursday, DeCosta revealed that he tried to acquire the star running back from the Tennessee Titans at the Oct. 31 trade deadline. The deal never materialized, and Baltimore eventually lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game as the NFL’s top rushing team curiously handed the ball to its running backs just six times.

That loss is still a painful memory, but a month later, Baltimore got its guy. Henry signed a two-year deal worth a reported $16 million on the first day of free agency Wednesday.

“When you evaluate the tape, you watch the player, you see the history of the player, you talk to people who have been around the player, it made all the sense in the world for us to try to get Derrick,” DeCosta said Thursday during Henry’s introductory news conference in Owings Mills.

For Henry, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2019 and 2020, signing with the Ravens also made sense.

“It really was a no-brainer for me,” said Henry, who thought he’d end up in Baltimore midway through last season. “This is where I wanted to be. I love the style, the physicality that they play with in all three phases. It fits my style of play as well. It was really a no-brainer, just trying to figure out the business side of things and glad we were able to get it figured out.”

Now it will be up to the Ravens to figure out how to implement Henry into their shotgun-heavy, run-pass option offense led by quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson — one that is vastly different from what the Titans operated.

Jackson is coming off a season in which he threw for a career-high 3,678 yards, while Henry has led the NFL in carries four of the past five seasons. In Baltimore, Jackson and the Ravens operated mostly out of the shotgun or pistol last season. For most of Henry’s eight-year career in Tennessee, the quarterback was under center.

How will they mesh?

“What Derrick does really exceptionally well is going to be where we’re going to move towards,” coach John Harbaugh said. “But we’re versatile. We can go in a lot of different directions.

“I also think what we’ve been doing along those lines fit this guy really well. It’s not just his specific talents, because he can run out of any kind of backfield.”

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, during...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, during...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center,...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center, sits with head coach John Harbaugh, left, and general manager Eric DeCosta during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center,...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center, sits with head coach John Harbaugh, left, and general manager Eric DeCosta during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Newly signed Ravens running back Derrick Henry stands with coach...

    Newly signed Ravens running back Derrick Henry stands with coach John Harbaugh, left, and general manager Eric DeCosta at a news conference Thursday in Owings Mills. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center,...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center, sits with head coach John Harbaugh, left, and general manager Eric DeCosta during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center,...

    Baltimore Ravens introduces newly signed running back Derrick Henry, center, sits with head coach John Harbaugh, left, and general manager Eric DeCosta during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

of

Expand

Henry’s addition could also help take some of the pressure off Jackson, who completed 20 of 37 passes with an interception and a fumble against the Chiefs in the AFC title game.

“He’s so dynamic,” Henry said of Jackson. “I’m excited to play with him. He had a great year this year, did a lot of great things, had a lot of great guys in the offense. I just want to be an added piece to this offense to help them do better than they did last year.”

Only once in Jackson’s six years in Baltimore has he had a 1,000-yard rusher (Mark Ingram II), which was in 2019, when he won his first NFL MVP award. Before Henry’s signing, the Ravens had just three running backs on their roster: fifth-year veteran Justice Hill, 2023 undrafted free agent Owen Wright and rookie sensation Keaton Mitchell, who is only three months removed from a torn ACL.

But none of them is close to the player Henry has been — and, even at age 30, still is.

Henry is just one of eight running backs in NFL history to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a season, churning out a career-high 2,027 along with 17 touchdowns in 2020 when he was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. His 9,502 career rushing yards rank second in Titans/Houston Oilers history, 507 behind Eddie George and nearly 1,000 more than Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell.

Despite his best years likely being behind him, the 6-foot-3, 247-pound veteran is still one of the game’s most imposing runners, ranking eighth among 49 qualifying backs last season in yards after contact per carry (3.32), per TruMedia. His 3,928 rushing yards after contact over the past five seasons are also 1,000 more than the next closest player, Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns. And in his final game for the Titans, he rushed for 153 yards and reached 21.7 mph, according to Next Gen Stats.

Still, what kind of impact he’ll have on a team that led the NFL in rushing yards last season without a bell cow back remains to be seen, especially behind an offensive line that could have as many as three new starters because of free agency.

“That will be the mission in the coming weeks to build that out,” DeCosta said of rebuilding the line. “I think we’re on our way. I think we have a good plan. We’re fortunate that this draft class is pretty good from that standpoint. I don’t want to call it historically strong, but it looks like a very strong crop of offensive linemen.”

Strong would also be an appropriate label for Henry.

Over the past five years, no running back had more yards after first contact (3,257). He also reached at least 20 mph on 22 of those carries, which ranked higher than Saquon Barkley (18) and Jonathan Taylor (17). Henry has also been remarkably durable for a position that takes a pounding, playing in at least 15 games in every season but one.

“He’s kind of a unicorn,” DeCosta said. “It’s a combination of speed, power, durability.”

But running backs also have a history of declining rapidly after turning 30. There have only been 26 backs in the modern era who have had 1,000-yard seasons after eclipsing that age, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Henry’s response when asked about those who think his best days are behind him?

“Tell them to keep watching,” he said. “I’m just ready to work, ready to get things started and do my best to help this organization.”

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...