The Dallas Cowboys were lucky they didn’t face Derrick Henry when they played the Titans on Thursday Night Football last season.
It was one of Dallas’ sloppiest performances of the season, though it came just days after their emotional Christmas Eve victory over Philadelphia, and they pulled away in the second half for a convincing (on paper) 27-13 win.
Of course, it wasn’t all that convincing on the field, as Tennessee rested most of their starters before their must-win Week 18 game vs Jacksonville, including Henry, Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, and Amani Hooker, among others.
Much like Ezekiel Elliott, Henry appears to have reached a crossroads with the Titans, who’ve gutted their roster this offseason.
Mike Silver of Bally Sports reported Tennessee shopped Henry during the Combine. Nothing came of it, but the Titans are clearly open to moving on from the two-time rushing champ, and could potentially release him down the road.
In that scenario, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell named the Cowboys (!) as a potential landing spot for Henry, which is as ridiculous as it sounds.
The Cowboys signing Derrick Henry would be a disaster
Barnwell believes running back is still a need for Dallas, which is accurate. He went in detail about why reuniting with Elliott would make sense. Like most Cowboys fans, Barnwell thinks Elliott could still be a “useful contributor to a winning football team” operating in an early-down role and as a pass-blocker.
That’s when Barnwell mentioned Henry to the Cowboys.
"If it’s not Elliott, the Cowboys could look toward a market that still includes Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray and Kareem Hunt unsigned. There’s also a chance expensive veterans such as Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook could be released after the draft. Dallas could add a rookie in April’s draft, but Pollard’s uncertain status for Week 1 leads me to believe the team would probably prefer to have a more experienced back on the roster."
Are we being trolled? So Dallas released an aging running back just to sign another for likely significantly more money than Elliott? Henry has declined the last two years but he still rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs on 4.4 yards per attempt in 2022. Elliott hasn’t touched 1,200 or more yards since 2019.
Whereas Elliott could command (at maximum) $3-4 million, Henry would likely go for $7-10 million on the open market if he’s released.
With Tony Pollard on the books for $10.09 million under the franchise tag, you’re talking about Dallas committing as much as $20 million to the running back position, a black hole they literally just dug themselves out of by releasing Elliott.
Pollard’s Week 1 status be damned.
The Cowboys have a former 1,000-yard rusher in Ronald Jones and seven draft picks to add to the RB room. Multiple mocks have Bijan Robinson going to Dallas, and there’s several plug-and-play prospects projected to get taken in the middle rounds, including Robinson’s Texas teammate Roschon Johnson, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet, Tulane’s Tyjae Spears, and Ole Miss’ Zach Evans, among others.
An Elliott reunion on the veteran minimum would make a lot more sense for the Cowboys than signing Henry.
Welcome to the dog days of the offseason, folks.