There are warning signs for the Tennessee Titans cropping up all across the NFL. Every day there is another ominous occurrence. Their fans should hope team management is paying attention.

Now is not the time to pay Derrick Henry. And, more to the point, there might not ever be the right time to pay him. Especially nowhere close to the degree he is seeking compensation. Frankly, if I were them I wouldn't even really truly consider it, privately, though I'd never say or do anything to disrespect the player in the process. Henry is everything you could possibly want off the field, as good a young man as you will find. And on the field, he is a beast. He is a monster. I love the way he runs … But he is still a running back, and that is the problem.

And giving him, say, $16 million a year on a long-term deal with more than $45 million guaranteed would be a huge risk. Most likely, a big mistake. Just slap that transition tag on him -- assuming there is not a new CBA hashed out this month (and perhaps even if it is depending on the language of any new pact) -- and punt on anything massive for now (and, well, probably forever).

Just ask the Rams what it's like to be stuck with an outlier contract at this position. It stinks. You can ruminate on trades and such, and try to create headlines and pretend you have a modicum of leverage but it says here LA is stuck with Todd Gurley. There isn't a football trade to be made there. Not even close. Only, at best, a salary dump, with the Rams having to move a decent pick themselves to generate any sort of deal that involves Gurley's bloated contract.

Sure, Gurley looked like a generational talent a few years ago when they re-set the running back market for him. But we should all know by now that backs tend to fall apart very quickly, especially those who entered the league with injury questions, and that ferocious workload is doing all parties no favor in this situation now.

Now, they have Gurley set to make over $13 million in all in 2020, with $7.5 million in guarantees for the upcoming season already kicking in last year. Another $5 million in guarantees kicks in on March 20, at which time Gurley also gets $5 million of next year's compensation guaranteed as well. This for a superstar player who the Rams barely trusted with the ball in their 2018 Super Bowl run, and who was a spare part, largely, in 2019. Good luck moving that contract. No one else is taking that on. And even if the Rams bite the bullet and cut him before March 20th, they'd do so giving him nearly $8 million to leave and would still have major cap issues. Gurley is signed through 2023, though even he must know there is zero chance he comes close to seeing that out.

The rise of Cardinals do-everything back David Johnson came at the same time as Gurley's. Now his contract is a similar albatross. Johnson, who has been injured and ineffective for two full seasons now and seemingly lost what was left of his job to Kenyan Drake once he was brought over from riding the bench in Miami, is due to make a staggering $10.2 million this season. And all of it is already guaranteed. Another $2 million of his $8 million salary for 2021 becomes fully guaranteed this March 20th.

He has the Cardinals already checkmated. No one will trade for that contract. Cutting him doesn't prevent them from having to pay him. Might as well see if they can cull something from Johnson this season, in hopes of maybe getting something for him a year from now, but that is hardly the position a team wants, hopes or expects to be in two years after signing a player to a best-of-breed contract.

But with running backs, it tends to be the norm. Caveat emptor.

How about the other team in the NFC West that recently decided to invest big in a running back? Yeah, the 49ers. They have paid Jerrick McKinnon $16 million the past two years as the top running back on the open market, and he has yet to play a game for them, and likely never will, with another $2.6 million of 20201 salary becoming guaranteed in April.

All the while, San Francisco's run game excelled through the playoffs being spearheaded by a dude who has been on the waiver wire forever and who has literally already been with a quarter of the teams in the league -- Raheem Mostert. And the 49ers lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl on a Sunday in which Chiefs running back Damien Williams, a former undrafted player who was discarded by the lowly Dolphins, should have been the MVP, carrying Kansas City's offense much of the day while Patrick  Mahomes had the worst three quarters of his professional career.

How about the Jets being unable to peddle away Le'Veon Bell for anything more than like a fifth-round pick at the trade deadline half a season into his top-of-the-market free-agent deal? You think the Falcons want to keep Devonta Freeman around at a $9.5 million cap hit this season? Wonder if the Jaguars are dreading that fifth-year option price tag hanging over them with Leonard Fournette in 2021, knowing how bad it would look not to execute for a player they (over)drafted that high?

As I said, buyer beware.

And it's not just that Henry runs upright and invites so much contact, and, more to the point, seems to thrive on running people over. It's the volume assigned to him as well. Over the past two years, including the postseason, Henry has 601 carries, 60 more than the next highest player (Sony Michel) and second only to Zeke Elliott overall (651, look out Cowboys). That is less than ideal. And while he might be the rare back, because of his size and strength, to withstand that and keep on ticking, I wouldn't want to find out with about $50 million in guarantees on the line.

This isn't a back like Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon, who is going to be a dervish and match-up issue in the passing game. It's not the same thing. You aren't getting that kind of wiggle catching passes, and it's not that degree of versatility. It's a risk I wouldn't be taking.  

Sorry, but I'd be drafting them in the middle rounds and renting them for a few years on streamlined free agent contracts (like the Ravens are doing with Mark Ingram) and saving my money for quarterbacks and defensive ends and corners and left tackles. It gets more obvious by the year, and even Henry's playoff heroics wouldn't sway me.

Tag 'em twice if you have to, and then move on. It may be cruel, but the economics of the NFL dictates it. Even with a swelling salary cap, I'd spend my money elsewhere.