Cowboys blow it again as Derrick Henry signs cheap deal with Ravens

Seattle Seahawks v Tennessee Titans
Seattle Seahawks v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

It's unfair that Dallas Cowboys fans have to stew negativity while fans of the NFL's other 31 teams are off celebrating free agent signings. We can only react to the decisions Jerry Jones makes, and as of this writing the Cowboys are the only team that hasn't signed an external free agent.

Could Jones salvage the first wave by signing Derrick Henry after a cavalcade of running backs surprisingly came off the board on day one? Henry was there for the taking and the Cowboys seemingly didn't bite, even though he came at an extremely affordable price.

Per reports, Henry signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Ravens. That contract includes a max value of $20 million with $9 million guaranteed in 2024. Given the state of the running back market, this is a fantastic deal for the Ravens, and one can't help but wonder why the Cowboys weren't all over this.

Derrick Henry's contract details with Ravens prove the Cowboys blew it

Many Cowboys fans were against signing Henry before free agency. However, numerous top-flight running backs were signed on Monday, including Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, D'Andre Swift, Josh Jacobs and Austin Ekeler. Even second-tier guys like Zack Moss, Devin Singletary and Gus Edwards found new homes.

The Cowboys options were paper thin entering day two. Even though reports claimed they weren't willing to give Moss $4 million per year, any competent front office would've pivoted by creating the requisite cap room to sign Henry, the best player available at a position of need.

Say what you will about Henry's age and immense workload in his career, but he was arguably the best running back on the market. In 2023, Henry ranked second among running backs in PFF WAR, and he placed first in yards after contact, sixth in yards after contact per attempt and fourth in missed tackles forced.

Make no mistake: Henry is still King Henry, even if he doesn't have the breakaway speed he boasted earlier in his career. The two-time rushing champ has started at least 15 games in seven of eight seasons and has only suffered one significant injury despite logging over 2,000 carries in his career.

The Cowboys desperately need a veteran back. They could still draft their eventual starter next month, but the wave of RB signings says a lot about how the league views the incoming class of running backs. There isn't a surefire star and maybe only three prospects are worth a day two pick.

With Henry off the board, the RB market is almost bereft of starting-caliber talent. And to think he could've been had at $8 million per year.

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