Derrick Henry Landing Spots: Dolphins, Bears, Saints Lead the Way

    With the news that Derrick Henry could potentially be on the trade block, we look at which teams might be in the trade market for the running back.

    With the news that Derrick Henry could potentially be on the trade block, it behooves us to ask which NFL teams might be in the market to send assets over for a running back on his second contract. The running back market in free agency is strong, and the draft class has some good names, so the expectation will be that Henry, slated to cost the Titans $16.4 million against the cap, won’t actually cost that much in terms of draft capital.

    Teams Who Could Trade for Derrick Henry

    The team trading for Henry won’t take on the entirety of that contract and will be in the market to give him a more team-friendly extension — the Titans are in the last year of their contract with him after accounting for the two void years on the deal.

    This would be a relatively good way to get a proven back at a better first-year contract value than can be found in free agency without spending too much capital on a position that hasn’t been as helpful as it was in previous years.

    We’ve seen running backs who have hit a plateau in their production find new life on new teams — Christian McCaffrey comes to mind — so a team hoping to unearth the talent that has been there his entire career can be somewhat confident that they’ll find something to work with.

    Miami Dolphins

    The Dolphins believe in the importance of the running game and have spent multiple picks, both directly and in the trade market, to find a lead back. Having a bruising running game could allow them to complement their deep-passing attack.

    Henry still has the speed McDaniel covets, which is a big part of the equation for them. Without any running backs under contract for 2023, this would be a good start to their offseason.

    Chicago Bears

    The Bears don’t have a primary running back on the roster, with Khalil Herbert as the only running back of note under contract. He’s excellent but unlikely to be thrust into a full-time, bell-cow-type role.

    They need to build around Fields, and if they trade down in the draft, they’ll have more than enough capital to make the moves they need to find a great unit to put around their young quarterback — especially for an offense that needs to be built around an effective running game.

    New Orleans Saints

    Now that the Saints haven’t had to send draft capital over to secure a quarterback, it’s entirely possible that they spend a little bit on a running back if they anticipate that Alvin Kamara’s legal troubles keep him off the field.

    Even if they don’t, the Saints haven’t been shy about rostering multiple running backs of starting caliber on the roster, even if that was a previous coaching regime. Pairing Henry with Derek Carr could allow them to be immediately competitive in a weak NFC South.

    Carolina Panthers

    Frank Reich absolutely knows what it means to have a high-level running back, and the Panthers wouldn’t want to spend an early pick there with the possibility of nabbing a quarterback in the draft. As Reich said in his opening presser, “It’s a passing league, but you have to run the ball to be a championship team.”

    Reich added, “There’s exceptions to that, but when you look at the analytics, the statistics over the years — you’ve got to be effective running the football and efficient running the football.”

    They will have to make sure they don’t give up the kind of draft capital that makes it impossible to move around in the draft to get who they want, but if they don’t want to spend the kind of picks in the draft that will get them a high-level running back prospect like Jahmyr Gibbs, they might be able to trade for Henry.

    New York Giants

    If the Giants can’t retain Saquon Barkley in free agency, they’ll lose out on an element that helped propel Daniel Jones into “most-improved” territory. Without a receiving corps to support him, they leaned on the running game — both with and without Jones carrying the ball — in order to create wins.

    They won’t want to give up too much in capital to secure a running back, keeping them out of the market for a high-level rookie, but they will want to make sure they have one to help Jones out as they work on an extension for him that could break their salary cap.

    Buffalo Bills

    The Buffalo Bills have not found a way to construct an effective running game around Josh Allen and have essentially asked him to carry that load along with the passing game. While much of that has to do with run blocking, having a reliable back could be a big part of it.

    In his Combine availability, head coach Sean McDermott did say he was pleased with how their young backs developed in the back half of the season, but when asked about adding a running back, he stated, “You’re always trying to add good pieces to your offense. You never turn a good football player away.”

    They’ve spent a lot of draft capital on the position already and are still unsatisfied. Instead of throwing another dart at the problem, they could trade for a bona fide producer and resolve the situation for the next couple of years.

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