Derrick Henry has a lucrative new contract.
But the Titans running back said on a Zoom conference call he’d continue to be the same guy.
“I just want to go out there and be the best player I can be, the best teammate I can be,” Henry said. “I want to go out there and play at a high level.
“God has blessed me and my family tremendously, and I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful to the Titans organization for getting this done. I want to go out there and prove my worth and continue to get better.”
Henry has been worth plenty since being drafted by the Titans in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Titans rewarded him with a multi-year contract after he’d signed his one-year franchise tag earlier this offseason. Henry said he had no doubts the deal would get done before the NFL’s deadline for extensions with franchise-tagged players.
Last week, while on the set of a Heisman Trophy commercial in Austin, Texas, Henry said he’s excited about what’s ahead.
“I am very excited, and happy the process is over with. Now the focus is getting back to football and hopefully getting together (for training camp) at the end of this month,” Henry said. “I didn’t have any doubt at all. It was just a matter of time before we could come (to an agreement) where we’d both be happy and I’m glad we were able to do that. We came to a common ground where both of us could be happy.”
Henry turned in the best year of his NFL career in 2019, when he was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year and a Pro Bowler for the first time after leading the NFL with a career-best 1,540 rushing yards on 303 carries.
Henry ranked third in NFL with 18 total touchdowns in 2019, and he ranked second in the AFC and fourth in the NFL with 1,746 yards from scrimmage during a season when the Titans advanced to the AFC Championship Game.
“I hope we can just build on the momentum, the good things that we did [last season],” Henry said. “And we need to work on things so we can be better than we were last season.”
Henry was a real workhorse in the postseason in 2019, setting a franchise playoff record with 182 rushing yards at New England (1/4/20) before resetting it with 195 rushing yards at Baltimore (1/11/20). Henry gained 69 yards on 19 carries in the AFC title game loss at Kansas City.
Henry was the only running back in the NFL to average more than 100 rushing yards per game (102.7) this season. From Weeks 10-13, he joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1985), Eric Dickerson (1984) and O.J. Simpson (1976), as well as Adrian Peterson (2012) as the only players to record at least 145 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games in NFL history.
Henry is hoping his contract (considered a good deal for both the team and Henry) might allow the franchise flexibility to add even more players in the coming years.
Henry said he’d welcome free agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who is on the team’s wish list, with open arms.
“I just thought the deal made sense for me, and if it gives us more room to bring in somebody else to help this team, I am all for it,” Henry said. “Any time you can improve your team at positions that we need, it is always a big benefit. Hopefully, if my deal possibly did that, hopefully we can bring somebody in that can help this team improve us more.”
As for Clowney, Henry said he’s heard speculation and now is waiting to see what happens.
“He’s a great player, and he’s played at a high level for a while. If he wants to come to Tennessee, you’d definitely welcome him with open arms,” Henry said of Clowney. “Hopefully, if [management and Clowney are] talking, we can get something done and he can come join us. We definitely would love to have him and he can help us in a big way.”
Henry has been working with his trainer in Dallas, Texas this offseason.
The new contract is just the latest source of motivation for Henry, who wants to get to the Super Bowl a season after finishing one win short.
Henry also became a father earlier this offseason.
“It’s a different feeling you can’t describe when you are looking at your child,” Henry said. “My daughter, she is so beautiful. Every day I look at her, that is all the motivation I need. I have to go hard for her each and every day. When I am training, doing anything else, I am doing it all for her.”