NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans want to make sure the 2019 NFL season's rushing leader sticks around Nashville for a few more years.
The Titans announced they had agreed on a "multiyear extension" with Derrick Henry late Wednesday afternoon, just before the league deadline for a long-term deal to avoid the standout running back having to play this season under the franchise tag.
Henry reportedly received a four-year deal for $50 million with $25.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.com.
The Titans faced a deadline of 4 p.m. EDT to sign Henry to an extension or let him play this season for the $10.2 million due under the franchise tag he signed April 2. They could have tagged him again for 2021 for 120% of his pay this season.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson has said for months that he wanted to keep Henry on the roster past this season with a longer contract. Tennessee already signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year deal worth $118 million in March before free agency started.
Titans safety Kevin Byard had a simple Twitter post of a crown emoji in celebration of the star rusher nicknamed "King Henry."
The Titans know all too well Henry's value. He led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards last season on 303 carries, both career highs. He ran 83 more times in the postseason. He also became the first player in NFL history to run for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games, a streak started in the regular-season finale and helped the Titans beat the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens on the way to their first AFC championship game in 17 years.
Henry brings size and power at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds. He's also fast once he finds room to run, having been clocked at 20.7 mph on his 66-yard run against Baltimore in the divisional round.
He also has an NFL-best seven touchdowns, five rushing and two receiving, of 65 yards or longer over the past three seasons — two more than Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill in that span. Henry's 28 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons rank second only to Todd Gurley (29), who is now with the Atlanta Falcons after being released in the offseason by the Los Angeles Rams.
Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, benefited from backing up DeMarco Murray his first two NFL seasons, and he had only 215 carries in 2018, which could help his long-term durability. He was cheap, too, through his first four seasons as the Titans' third pick in the 2016 draft, when he was selected in the second round. He has 3,833 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns in 62 games played in his four NFL seasons.
However, he also has not caught more than 18 passes in a single season, which has limited his availability on third down. That had him well below the receptions by running backs such as the Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey, the New Orleans Saints' Alvin Kamara or the New York Jets' Le'Veon Bell last season.
The Titans are scheduled to report for training camp July 26, and they are scheduled to open the season Sept. 14 at Denver.
Elsewhere, Dak Prescott will play whatever becomes of the 2020 season under the one-year franchise tag after the Dallas Cowboys and their star quarterback couldn't agree on a long-term contract.
Of the 14 NFL players tagged in March, only two have agreements: Henry and the Titans dealed a day after Kansas City secured Pro Bowl defensive end Chris Jones with a four-year contract that could be worth up to $85 million.
Two of those 14 players — Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars — haven't signed the one-year contract that goes with the tag. They can stay away from team activities without the risk of being fined, and Ngakoue has said he won't play for the Jaguars and wants to be traded.
The Bengals used the $17.9 million tag on Green despite the seven-time Pro Bowler missing all of last season with an ankle injury. The move means the former Georgia standout is likely gone after this season, when he will be 32. Cincinnati drafted Tee Higgins in the second round out of Clemson in April, making him the heir apparent as their No. 1 receiver.
Prescott signed his $31.4 million contract in June. The 2016 NFL offensive rookie of the year earned slightly more than $4 million total in the four years of his rookie contract after being drafted in the fourth round.
The Cowboys and Prescott have been working for more than a year on a long-term contract for the two-time Pro Bowl selection who has started every game of his NFL career.
He replaced the injured Tony Romo during the 2016 preseason and led a franchise-record 11-game winning streak that carried the Cowboys to the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Romo, a 10-year starter, never got his job back, and team owner Jerry Jones has said repeatedly he considers Prescott a franchise quarterback for years to come.
For now, the third $100 million-plus contract in Cowboys history — Romo had the first — will have to wait until at least 2021, when the team could put the franchise tag on Prescott again at nearly $38 million.