The Tennessee Titans have reached agreement in principle on a trade to acquire disgruntled Buffalo Bills running back Travis Henry and, barring unexpected complications, the deal will be announced early next week.
In return for Henry, who last season lost his starting job to Willis McGahee and who has not participated in any of the Bills' offseason sessions, Buffalo will receive a 2006 third-round draft choice. The paperwork for the trade, which is not contingent upon the Titans reaching a contract extension agreement with Henry, has been forwarded to the league offices.
The trade is contingent on the 26-year-old Henry passing a Tennessee-administered physical exam.
Henry is entering the final season of his contract and is scheduled to have a base salary of $1.25 million for 2005. If he does not sign an extension, Henry will become an unrestricted free agent next spring.
Tennessee officials have been attempting for much of the spring to solidify the running back situation behind starter Chris Brown, a two-year veteran whose brief career has so far been marred by injuries. Brown rushed for 1,067 yards in 2004, his first year as the starter after replacing Eddie George, but missed five games with injuries. Brown also missed five games in his 2003 rookie season, is currently recovering from a broken hand sustained in an offseason practices, and his durability is a concern.
Henry has also suffered some injury problems in his NFL career but is also noted for his toughness, as exemplified by the fact that he played the latter part of the 2003 season with a hairline leg fracture. It's a good bet that Titans coach Jeff Fisher will like Henry's toughness, and it will not be surprising if the hard-running back pushes Brown for the starting spot.
Despite reports earlier in the week that the Jacksonville Jaguars were close to acquiring Henry, they did not make a trade offer to the Bills until Friday night. The Jags also offered a third-round choice.
In their quest to add a proven running back as an insurance policy against the possibility that star Fred Taylor might not be fully rehabilitated from knee surgery for the start of the regular season, the Jaguars had completed one crucial element in a potential acquisition of Henry. The Jaguars earlier this week reached agreement in principle with Henry on a multi-year contract extension.
But the Jaguars lagged in the second half of the equation: satisfying the price tag of Buffalo general manager Tom Donahoe, who had all along been seeking a third-round draft pick in return for the four-year veteran back. By the time Jacksonville finally made a proposal to Buffalo, the Bills were more inclined to accept the Titans' offer.
A tough and determined inside runner who's had two 1,000-yard seasons, Henry was an attractive back for both teams, in part because of the injury problems of their current starters.
In four seasons, Henry has carried 963 times for 3,849 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also has 103 catches for 691 yards and two scores. The former University of Tennessee player, a second-round pick of the Bills in 2001, rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2002 and '03. He has appeared in 54 games and started 48.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.