Derrick Henry has added his voice to the growing debate about running back salaries.
The Tennessee Titans star will earn $10.5 million this year, making him the second-highest paid running back behind Nick Chubb ($10.85 million). But that salary is a far cry from the money paid to the top quarterbacks, who take home five times that much.
Henry told the AP’s Teresa M. Walker that running backs play a vital role for their team and are often used to market the sport off the field.
“Have you all witnessed it? I’m pretty sure you all have,” Henry said. “So yes, just trying to show that we are valuable as any other position. They use us in commercials and all over the place. And we just want our share due.”
Running back salaries are limited by rookie contracts, and by the time many running backs finish that contract, the tremendous wear and tear of the position have sapped their talent. Teams have become leery of giving big extensions to backs, citing the disastrous six-year, $90 million extension the Dallas Cowboys reached with Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. The workhorse back’s career went in decline a year or so later.
It’s become trendy but cruel to call running backs “disposable” these days. Henry, who’s led the NFL in rushing twice and topped 1,500 yards for the third time last season, says all he can do is keep performing his job, and hope things change.
“All you can do is try to be the best player you can and hope the team understands your value and appreciate you trying to do the best you can to carry the load to help your team win games and get to the Super Bowl,” Henry said.