Two Tennessee Titans contracts serve as a good illustration of how much running backs have been devalued in the NFL over the last decade.
On Wednesday, the Titans and Derrick Henry signed a four-year, $50 million contract with $25.5 million guaranteed.
In 2011, the Titans and Chris Johnson signed a four-year, $53.5 million contract with $30 million guaranteed.
The NFL salary cap is $198.2 million this season. It was $120 million in 2011.
The Titans gave Johnson his raise when he still had two years left on his rookie contract and they could have forced him to play it out. The Titans didn’t give Henry a new deal until he had played out his rookie contract.
Henry is the same age in 2020 as Johnson was in 2011. Henry is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in rushing; Johnson had finished fourth in the NFL in rushing in 2010. But Johnson made more money at a time when the salary cap was almost $80 million less.
In the time since Johnson signed that deal, running backs have routinely failed to live up to lucrative contracts — including Johnson, who was released by the Titans in 2014. The Titans are making an investment in Henry in the hopes that he can buck the trend, but it’s nowhere near as big an investment as they made in Johnson nine years ago.
Titans pay Derrick Henry less than Chris Johnson got in 2011 originally appeared on Pro Football Talk