Titans' Henry set to hit free agent market

Updated: March 2, 2007, 9:27 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Barring an 11th-hour breakthrough in negotiations, an already crowded field of veteran tailbacks available via trade or free agency will gain another notable member this weekend when Tennessee Titans standout Travis Henry goes into the unrestricted market.

Travis Henry

Several league sources told ESPN.com on Friday that the Titans have apprised Henry and agent Hadley Engelhard that they will not pay the veteran tailback an $8.3 million roster bonus that is due Monday.

That means the team plans to release Henry into free agency over the weekend unless he reworks his contract. Despite considerable discussions, the two sides are not close to an accord that would accommodate everyone's needs.

The timing of the roster bonus and of Henry's pending release are crucial.

Technically, if Henry is still on the Tennessee roster Monday morning, the club must pay him the $8.3 million bonus. But the NFL does not have waivers or transactions on Sunday, meaning the Titans must release Henry before the end of the league's business day, at 4 p.m. ET, on Saturday to avoid having to pay the exorbitant bonus.

Henry, who resurrected his career in 2006 by winning the starting tailback job early in the season and then posting his third 1,000-yard rushing year, has been prepared for the possibility of his release. When he becomes a free agent, Henry figures to command strong interest in the market, despite the presence of other top tailbacks who are available.

The Denver Broncos, who are actively seeking to upgrade at tailback, could be one of Henry's most ardent suitors. Henry's slashing, one-cut running style is well suited to the Denver ground-game design.

Among the tailbacks available as free agents are Jamal Lewis (Baltimore), Dominic Rhodes (Indianapolis), Chris Brown (Tennessee), Ahman Green (Green Bay) and Corey Dillon (New England). The field is further augmented by the fact that several tailbacks, notably Willis McGahee (Buffalo) and Thomas Jones (Chicago), are being offered in trades.

The potential departure of Henry would leave the Titans with just the unproven LenDale White, the 2006 second-round choice from Southern California who played only sparingly as a rookie, on the depth chart.

Henry, 28, carried 270 times for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006, and notched six 100-yard outings. The former University of Tennessee standout spent the first four years of his career with the Buffalo Bills before being traded to the Titans in 2005.

In 78 games, including 62 starts, Henry has carried 1,321 times for 5,395 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also has 134 receptions for 886 yards and two scores. In addition to his 1,000-yard season in 2006, Henry ran for over 1,000 yards in two of his four seasons with the Bills.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.