NASHVILLE – When the Titans rewarded Derrick Henry with a lucrative long-term contract earlier this month, the running back felt the support.
Players from across the league celebrated the Pro Bowl running back on social media, especially his teammates. Henry's phone buzzed around the clock with text messages and calls.
"A lot of love throughout the whole process, and I'm grateful for the support," Henry said after inking the deal. "I definitely give it back to all the guys that supported me because that goes a long way throughout the league. Definitely appreciative of all of it and I'm definitely supporting those guys who supported me."
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said on a video conference call on Tuesday the move to swap out the franchise tag initially placed on Henry with a new deal was a big development for the Titans.
Henry, selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2019, was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year and second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press 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.
Henry was a dominating force in the postseason, 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.
The move undoubtedly made plenty happy in the locker room as well, as players saw the workhorse get rewarded.
"There's a lot of guys that are important to this football team (and) I would say Derrick's at the top of that list with a handful of guys," Vrabel said on Tuesday. "I'm extremely happy for him, happy that (GM) Jon (Robinson) was able, and his staff was able to get something done. We're always excited to get our players, our core players, under contract for more than the current year.
"As it relates to the locker room, I think you're always conscious of transactions. I'd like to think that the contracts could stay out of the locker room, but they have a tendency to sometimes filter in. … I think our guys, I hope that they think that we're going to try to take care of guys but we're also going to always do what's best for the team because that's important too. So, excited to have Derrick extended. He was under contract, this is going to provide that he's got some years, some more years with us. He's such an impact for us, such a unique player. And again, I've touched on his leadership that's continued to grow, and that's the thing that when we get all back in here that I'm looking forward to the most."
A look back at RB Derrick Henry's 2019 Pro Bowl season that saw him rush 303 times for an NFL-leading 1,540 yards (5.1-yard avg.) and 16 touchdowns. (Photos: Donald Page)