Derrick Henry heading to Ravens is another sign that running backs are valued -- at the right price

Backfields are going to look a whole lot different in the NFL next season after a run on free agent quarterbacks and running backs during the league's two-day legal tampering period.

After QBs ruled Day 1, running backs continued to make strides in free agency Tuesday with four-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry agreeing to a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press.

Henry’s jump from the Tennessee Titans, where he spent his first eight seasons, was among the biggest moves on the eve of the league’s new year, which officially begins at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

That’s when free agents can sign contracts they’ve agreed to this week.

Henry's deal is worth up to $20 million and includes $9 million guaranteed. The two-time NFL rushing champ joins a Baltimore team that annually produces one of the league’s leading ground games.

Running backs have struggled to earn big money in recent years — to the point where Henry organized a group chat among top players at the position last summer. This year’s free agent class included Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard, all of whom found new homes during Monday's free agency frenzy.

Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard were the three running backs franchise tagged a year ago at $10.1 million, and none signed long-term deals with their teams by the July deadline. All three became free agents this year when their teams declined to tag them again, this time at $12 million.

Henry turned 30 in January. The four-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in 2023 with 280 rushing attempts and ranked second to Christian McCaffrey with 1,167 yards rushing. His 12 rushing TDs were fourth in the AFC.

Henry leaves Tennessee ranked second in franchise history with 9,502 rushing yards, trailing only Eddie George (10,009).

The Ravens finished with the NFL’s best regular-season record in 2023 before losing to Kansas City in the AFC championship game. Now they add another proven offensive playmaker to work alongside quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is coming off his second MVP season.

Baltimore was also able to reach a long-term deal with defensive tackle Justin Madubuike after putting the franchise tag on him. But the Ravens lost inside linebacker Patrick Queen to rival Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

So far, 10 quarterbacks will be signing with new teams Wednesday: Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston, Gardner Minshew, Tyrod Taylor, Drew Lock, Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky and Sam Darnold.

At least a dozen veteran running backs, led by Henry, Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard, are getting deals with new teams.

They're joined by Aaron Jones, D'Andre Swift, Austin Ekeler, Devin Singletary, Antonio Gibson, Zack Moss, Gus Edwards and Nyheim Hines, among others.

The Vikings added Jones, the former Green Bay running back and 2018 third overall draft pick Darnold as a temporary replacement at quarterback for Cousins, whose departure to Atlanta was the biggest move of free agency.

Also Tuesday, the Browns agreed to a one-year deal with Winston to back up Deshaun Watson that’s worth up to $8.7 million, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the AP.

Joe Flacco, who went 4-1 and helped the Browns reach the playoffs last season after Watson was sidelined by a shoulder injury, didn’t receive a contract offer from the Browns, said his agent, Joe Linta.

Also, a person familiar with the deal told the AP that the Texans are acquiring running back Joe Mixon from the Bengals.

Mixon, who led Cincinnati with 1,034 yards rushing and nine TDs last season, will replace Singletary.

Cincinnati planned to release him after agreeing on a contract with running back Moss, who scored seven combined TDs in ’23 for the Colts.

Mixon will join Dameon Pierce in the backfield for the AFC South champions.

Other notable moves Tuesday included edge rusher Danielle Hunter agreeing to a two-year, $49 million deal with the Texans; edge rusher Shaquil Barrett agreeing to a one-year, $9 million deal with Miami after five seasons in Tampa Bay; and former Saints defensive lineman Malcolm Roach agreeing to a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with Denver, according to people with knowledge of the deals. The Broncos allowed a league-worst 5 yards per carry last season.

The Broncos were the big spenders last year in free agency, signing 14 players to contracts worth nearly a quarter-billion dollars. But they have had to be much more judicious in their spending after their release of Wilson saddled them with a record $85 million in dead cap charges.


AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.