Why the Bears should pursue Derrick Henry in the offseason
Christopher Hanewinckel - USA Today Sports

Why the Bears should pursue Derrick Henry in the offseason

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Running back Derrick Henry has been one of the best in the league for the past few years with his best season probably coming in 2020 when he received his first All-Pro nomination after rushing for 2,027 yards. That made him the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season; even Walter Payton never accomplished this feat.

After such dominance, his contract is coming to an end and it does not appear that the Tennessee Titans are going to do anything to stop him from hitting the open market; BetTennessee only gives a 9.1 percent chance that he will be with the Titans for the 2024 season.

However, according to BetTennessee, the Bears have an even greater odds of Derrick Henry being on their roster next season sitting at 14.3 percent. Particularly with how the Bears ran a running back by committee backfield for most of last season, having a solid No. 1 back certainly sounds like a good idea but should that player be Derrick Henry?

There are definitely a lot of reasons to want Derrick Henry. He is consistently a workhorse, leading the NFL in carries for the fourth time in the past five years. His yards per attempt has been above four every season he has played in the NFL and despite having what some may consider a down year for him with over 400 less rushing yards than last season, he was still over 1,000 yards and second overall in the league.

What really plays against Henry is his age. In the league, there seems to be a general belief that a running back will reach their peak around age 27, which is about how old Henry was when he had his 2,000-yard season. Near the beginning of the month, he turned 30. It is rare for a running back to continue to perform when they reach 30, so signing him could really be a risk for Chicago. Then again, Derrick Henry is clearly not an average running back so this risk could be well worth it.

Acquiring Derrick Henry becomes more of a problem when you look at his contract situation. His last contract with the Titans was a four-year deal for $50 million where he also got a $500,000 bonus if he reached at least 1,300 yards as he did in 2020 and 2022. Going to sign with another team, he is most likely not going to accept a low-level deal.

However, he may not have a choice in the matter. His age may actually help Chicago, or truly any other team trying to negotiate a contract with him, because there are no running backs who will be 30 or older at the start of next season who made as much money as he did last season. In fact, the running back over 30 who made the most money this past season was former Bear Cordarelle Patterson; he made $4,250,000. While his statistical performance is not comparable to Henry, it may be a sign that Henry is not going to make nearly as much money with a new team as he did with the Titans.

Given all of these considerations - should the Bears pursue Derrick Henry? For the right price, absolutely. If he is determined to make at least $10,000,000 as he has made at least that much since 2020, then that is too expensive. On the other hand, if the Bears can sign Henry for about $6.5 million, probably also with some incentives and bonuses like the one he had with the Titans, then this is worth it.

Getting a solid run game is key for any offense to function and getting a running back who can pound the ball like Henry could really help to enhance the play-action game, which could further open up running opportunities for Justin Fields, if the Bears decide to keep him. In addition, if you pair receiver DJ Moore with another elite receiver and add Henry in the backfield, this offense becomes highly explosive and incredibly dangerous. That is exactly what Chicago needs in 2024.

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