Between low-cost deals for free agents and the lack of long-term deals for Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, or Tony Pollard, running backs got the raw end of the 2023 offseason. The start of this year’s free agency period on Monday had a much different tune.

Running backs flew off the board, from D’Andre Swift and Josh Jacobs to Tony Pollard and Saquon Barkley. The biggest name left out of the carousel was Derrick Henry, who was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year just over three years ago. 

Fortunately for Henry, there are still a handful of teams in need of a running back. While he’s not the same player he was at his peak when he ran for more than 2,000 yards in a season, Henry still showed flashes in 2023 even while playing behind a porous offensive line. 

Where could Henry land? Here’s a look at four potential suitors and why he could fit with each. 

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Derrick Henry landing spots


Every team in the NFC East added a running back on Monday — except the Cowboys. In fact, Dallas lost a running back when Tony Pollard signed with the Titans. Could they grab Tennessee’s former star?

Speculation has tied Henry to the Cowboys for some time now, but it wasn’t until Pollard’s departure that a serious running back need opened up for the organization. Deuce Vaughn is the only running back on the Cowboys’ roster who handled NFL carries in 2023, and the undersized rookie was largely ineffective over 23 touches out of the backfield.

The Cowboys are undoubtedly going to add a running back in free agency with no clear day-one option in the draft. If Henry’s price tag is low enough, the former 2,000-yard rusher will be an option even if he would only fill the role for a year or two.

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Henry’s best bet for late-career success would likely come in Baltimore, where the offense still emphasizes the running game and the run-blocking should be much stronger than it was at the end of Henry’s time in Tennessee.

The Ravens don’t typically ride one running back heavily. Even if they did, Lamar Jackson would still handle a significant amount of carries. That could benefit Henry at this stage of his career, though. He might feel he can still handle a huge workload, but his effectiveness could be much improved in a role that keeps him fresh.

Baltimore lost Gus Edwards and might not have JK Dobbins back in 2024, either. That leaves Keaton Mitchell (knee) and Justice Hill as options out of the backfield, making an addition likely. Henry would be an ideal fit as the Ravens try to win at least one more game and get to Super Bowl 59.

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Like the Cowboys, odds are the Vikings’ top running back for next season is not currently on the roster. Minnesota cut ties with Alexander Mattison before free agency, and Ty Chandler is far better served as a complement than a feature back.

The running game will also be critical in 2024 with no clear solution at quarterback after Kirk Cousins’ departure. The Vikings are already interested in Aaron Jones, according to The Athletic, so interest in Joe Mixon and Henry would make plenty of sense.

Henry led the league in rushing attempts in four of the past five seasons, so he knows what it’s like to handle a significant workload if the Vikings opt to go with a run-first offense in 2024. Their interest in Jones is an indication Minnesota is fine plugging a veteran into the backfield even if it’s only a short-term fix.

At the right price, signing Henry could be a way to excite fans amid quarterback uncertainty.


Henry spent years shredding the Texans’ defense at a historic rate. Could he stay in the AFC South and don a Houston uniform in 2024?

It might not be especially likely, but the Texans have a need in their backfield and were known to be interested in Saquon Barkley before the ex-Giant signed in Philadelphia.

The Texans are in a good place in relation to the salary cap and are currently set to lean on Dameon Pierce as their feature back in 2024. Pierce had a strong start to his career in 2022, but he was inefficient in his second season and ceded the starting job to Devin Singletary. With Singletary headed to the Giants, Houston will be forced to either roll the dice with Pierce, a draft pick, or a veteran free agent.

If the Texans are serious about taking the next step and competing for a championship in 2024, signing Henry should be on the table. The running game shouldn’t be an afterthought just because C.J. Stroud is an excellent quarterback, and Pierce hasn’t proven he can produce in Bobby Slowik’s offense. 

Henry and the Texans may not seem like the most natural fit, but the pairing makes too much sense to be ruled out.