NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry joined the chorus in making it clear that he isn’t happy with the way his position is being treated and floated the idea of a running back summit similar to the annual one organized by NFL tight ends.

“It’s tough right now,” Henry said Friday. “We’re just trying to show that we are as valuable as any other position. They use us in commercials and all over the place. We just want our share.”

Henry’s comments regarded the $10.1 million franchise tag that was placed on Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs, with none of the three running backs able to reach a long-term contract.

Barkley signed an amended franchise tag with the New York Giants that included an additional $1 million in available incentives and a $2 million up-front signing bonus, and Pollard signed the franchise tender placed on him by the Dallas Cowboys. Jacobs, who led the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards last season, is not in Las Vegas Raiders training camp after refusing to sign the franchise tag.

Many NFL players who perform at a high level are rewarded accordingly with big contracts. Henry feels that is not the case when it comes to running backs.

“We want the same thing,” Henry said. “It seems like even if we are productive, when it comes to negotiating, it’s kind of like used against us at that point.”

After Barkley, Pollard and Jacobs failed to reach long-term deals before the July 17 deadline, multiple running backs took to social media to voice their displeasure. Henry was one of them, and he started a group text message with others he considered to be the top running backs in the league. That eventually led to a Zoom call that was set up by Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler.

Henry said the goal of the Zoom call was to generate dialogue and get the message out there that they aren’t pleased with how the position is viewed. They plan to revisit the Zoom call in hopes of making the market better for future running backs, Henry said, and could consider a gathering to help one another.

“There’s so many legendary RBs to have, so much knowledge,” Henry said. “If we were able to start something like that and just have, like, a weekend, a couple of days to suck up that knowledge from those guys and their experiences, I think that’d be great.”

The pay topic was an issue addressed by other running backs across the NFL on Friday. The New Orleans SaintsJamaal Williams, who left the Detroit Lions in free agency after receiving what he called a “disrespectful offer,” said he tried to block out the “outside noise” but pointed out the versatility players at the position provide.

“Our bodies go through so much, and yet we have people who can go through years of playing. And yet, we’re diminished,” Williams said. “We’re the most warriors on the team. We deal with everybody, D-linemen, linebackers and DBs. Our position is where warriors is at.”

Second-year Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce is a player who will be affected by the future market. But Pierce isn’t concerned about it.

“I don’t want to say devalued,” Pierce said. “When it’s time for my second contract, the running back market might be the highest it’s ever been. Kinda like houses in 2008, it’s time to buy a running back.”

Henry is an example of how a running back signing a second contract can work. He signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Titans in 2020 after leading the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in 2019 and carrying Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game. He rushed for 2,027 yards the next season and was leading the league in 2021 with 937 rushing yards before injuring his foot in Week 8. He was second to Jacobs last season with 1,538 rushing yards.

ESPN’s Katherine Terrell and DJ Bien-Aime contributed to this report.


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