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New Ravens RB Derrick Henry has message for doubters: 'Tell them to keep watching'

To any doubter questioning how much Derrick Henry has left in the tank, the King has a simple message:

"Tell them to keep watching," he said on Thursday.

The Baltimore Ravens signed Henry to a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency despite questions about how much tread is left on the tires. The back took 1,529 carries over the past five seasons in Tennessee, averaging 306 per year. His numbers dipped slightly last season, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, his lowest since becoming the full-time starter.

Joining Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense could rejuvenate the 30-year-old back.

"A no-brainer for me. This is where I knew I wanted to be," Henry said on Thursday during his introductory news conference. "I love the style, the physicality they play with on all three phases. I feel like it fits my style of play, as well. It was really a no-brainer. Just trying to figure out the business side of things, glad we were able to get it figured out."

Pairing Henry and Jackson forms a dangerous combo for defenses. Each can take it to the house with their legs on any given play, and Henry's presence will make the play-action pass that much more dangerous. As the league has gotten smaller on the second level to defend the pass, adding a road-grader like Henry gives the Ravens an advantage on the ground.

According to Next Gen Stats, Henry has 3,267 rush yards versus a stacked box in his career (8+ defenders), most in the NFL and 1,514 more rush yards than any other player since 2016. Against stacked boxes, Henry also ranks first in carries (742), rush TDs (58) and rush first downs (158) during his career.

The Ravens will still likely see a trove of stacked boxes, but with defenses needing to keep an eye on Jackson, Henry will be the beneficiary.

"We're versatile, we can go a lot of different directions," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "Lamar makes us versatile. I also think what we've been doing along those lines fits (Henry) really well. ... You can run out of any backfield set. He can be in the pistol, he can be under. He can be in the gun, he can move around. He's just a versatile player."

Henry has generated 10-plus rushing TDs in six straight seasons, the third-longest streak all-time (LaDainian Tomlinson, nine; Adrian Peterson, seven). He becomes only the second player in NFL history to change teams after having at least five straight seasons with 10-plus rushing TDs (Tomlinson).

By joining the Ravens, Henry becomes the 22nd player to change teams after amassing 2,000-plus career carries, per NFL Research. Only three of the previous 21 went on to have a 1,000-plus yard season after changing teams (Peterson, Frank Gore, Edgerrin James).

In Baltimore, Henry's surroundings are immediately upgraded. The offensive line, while needing work, is much improved than what he ran behind in Tennessee last year. The presence of Jackson and Zay Flowers will take some attention off him.

"I definitely wanted to be somewhere that had a solid foundation," Henry said on Thursday. "This foundation has been set for a very long time. They compete every year and always in the conversation. I wanted to be somewhere where I'm surrounded by great talent, have a great quarterback and great players around him as well. So just excited for this opportunity."

The opportunity nearly happened during last season, as rumors swirled that the Ravens were a potential trade destination for Henry ahead of the deadline. Ultimately no deal went down and Henry played out his final year with the Titans.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta confirmed on Thursday that he had trade talks involving the running back during the 2023 season.

"To be honest, we tried to trade for Derrick before the trade deadline," DeCosta said. "Thought there was a reasonable chance we'd get a trade done. It didn't work it. It was disappointing. But we pivoted. When you evaluate the tape, you watch the player, you see the history of the player, you talk to people who have been around the player, it made all the sense in the world for us to target Derrick."

A few months after missing on a trade, the Ravens locked down their workhorse back. If Henry stays healthy, Baltimore's offense will be a load to handle in 2024.

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