Thursday, January 20

The Titans’ 12 best Derrick Henry replacements in the NFL trade deadline, from David Johnson to Melvin Gordon

The Titans (6-2) are the best team in the AFC after Week 8, but that gives them little comfort knowing that they could be without running back Derrick Henry, their most indispensable player, for the remainder of the 2021 season. NFL.

Henry suffered a foot injury in Sunday’s 34-31 overtime win over the Colts that was revealed to be a fracture. That leaves Tennessee scrambling to put together a viable power-running game with a major drop in talent from the great, speedy workhorse.

The Titans’ options on the roster are limited to Jeremy McNichols, plus a pace-changing pass receiver and former Browns backup Dontrell Hilliard. Darrynton Evans was selected in the second round in 2020 to be Henry’s best backup, but he has been unable to keep his knee healthy and is already on season-ending injured reserve.

Tennessee’s offense builds on the intimidating volume of Henry setting up the action passing game on the field for Ryan Tannehill. Neither McNichols nor Hilliard are good enough to handle feature-like touches. The Titans will need to call on a committee to maintain at least one solid attack without the showmanship of Henry.

To that end, they must add a veteran in free agency (Adrian Peterson is already working for them) or better yet, get aggressive before Tuesday’s NFL midseason trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET. Here’s a look at the backs Tennessee GM Jon Robinson should consider a trade for:

MORE: Titans RB Depth Chart After Derrick Henry Injury

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David Johnson, Texans

The Texans already moved Mark Ingram back to the Saints and could benefit from sending another member of their veterans committee. Johnson would provide some versatility in the passing game, as well as being big enough to handle key touches through the red zone. The question with him is whether Houston would easily want to help a division foe in Tennessee.

Philip Lindsay, jeans

Lindsay doesn’t have the same structure as Henry or Johnson, but he has a strong production history from his Denver days, when he gets the touches and a favorable blocking scheme to support him. Like Johnson, it should cost little, given the Texans handed Ingram for a seventh round three drafts down the line.

Jamaal Williams, Lions

Williams (thigh) was inactive for the Week 8 game for the Eagles, but his injury is considered minor. When he was out, seventh-round rookie Jermar Jefferson looked pretty good as a complement to second-year stallion D’Andre Swift. Detroit, with zero wins, needs to focus on the youth movement and has no reason to keep Williams on a committee with Swift. It might cost a little more than Johnson or Lindsay, but you can probably get it for a fourth round at the most.

David Montgomery, Bears

Now we get more interesting and raise the stakes. While Montgomery (knee) has been on short-term injured reserve, rookie Khailil Herbert has looked fantastic taking on most of the filler touches with Damien Williams sick over and over again. The Bears should also think more ahead. knowing Montgomery can look for a potential second assailant for his serves, which were great before the injury. This could be a game-changing move for the Titans since there is no guarantee that Henry will be the same going forward given his mileage before his 28th birthday in January.

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Trey Sermon, 49ers

The 49ers have hosted their third-round pick and handed their backfield to sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell. They tried to give him a wake-up call to show the level of effort Kyle Shahanan likes, but there is a lot of talent at the former Oklahoma and Ohio State. San Francisco should already have a big regret for wasting a pick, but Tennessee can help see if a change of scenery creates an attitude change, given that it would be entrusted with a key role. The Titans could give them a fourth-round lap to take the hands off Sermon, who doesn’t see the ball at all.

Mike Davis, Falcons

Cordarrelle Patterson has taken his backfield by storm as a standout hybrid player. Davis, who was a Christian McCaffrey supersub in Carolina last season, hasn’t had the key opportunities as expected in former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s scheme. The Titans can probably get him for a fourth round at the most.

MORE: Who is the endorsement of Derrick Henry? Meet Jeremy McNichols

Tevin Coleman, Jets

Rookie Michael Carter is the man in the Jets’ backfield with his career and reception. Coleman was hurt again with a hamstring injury, so he’s very unattractive except for the fact that he can be picked for a seventh round.

Marlon Mack, Colts

Mack is the ideal power back for needy teams and would like to be traded out of Jonathan Taylor’s shadow since his role has been reduced to the occasional few touches on the first few downs. The problem is, he plays for the team that might now think they have a shot in the AFC South again, despite being swept by the Titans, because Henry is out. Indianapolis could help its rival, but it would probably increase the price of the draft pick by playing on its desperation.

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Carlos Hyde, Jaguares

James Robinson (heel) appears to have avoided a long-term injury against the Seahawks and Hyde, as well as being Urban Meyer’s favorite, doesn’t offer much value in Jacksonville. But it has been a good plug-and-play player when needed on a variety of teams. This is the Titans’ alternative to making a cheap intradivision deal with the Texans.

Ty’Son Williams, Ravens

The Ravens loved Williams early on to help replace JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. But he’s missed a lot of little things to help the offense, which tends to happen with otherwise talented young running backs. Baltimore has made it work on a combination of DeVonta Freeman and Le’Veon Beil, making Williams expendable. This is another cheap play for the Titans, and the downside is a lack of experience.

Peyton Barber, Raiders

The Raiders may be well running their offense with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. The question is, given that the Raiders are the second-seeded in the AFC right now behind the Titans, would they want to help a team with the same record and the same seeded aspirations.

Melvin Gordon, Broncos

This would be the best option if Denver only realized that a) it is not really a contender and b) it can benefit by letting rookie Javonte Williams loose as a leading running back. Gordon is a pending free agent and is not in the Broncos’ plans for 2022 because of Williams. They might as well speed up and move it now. They also have some sway over the Titans and can pull a third-round pick out of desperation given that Gordon is back healthy and playing well as a powerful back.

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