As Derrick Henry prepared for his first press conference as a Raven, he knew the suit he wanted to wear.

When his grandmother, Gladys Henry, died, he wore a deep purple suit to celebrate the life of the woman who helped raise him. Although many of his belongings are packed in preparation for a move, he went through those boxes until he found it.

So, when the running back who goes by the nickname “King Henry” stepped onto the podium at the Ravens’ training facility — often referred to as “The Castle” — in Owings Mills, he boldly repped the colors of his new team. And he knew his grandmother would be proud of the choice he made.

“The day before free agency, we were outside in my yard playing,” Henry said. “I was outside playing with my daughter. My grandmother loved butterflies, [and] in Tennessee, I used to always see a butterfly at every practice. In the house we live in now, never saw one since we’ve been there. We’ve been there going on two years. And that day a butterfly just flew around me constantly, and I knew that was kind of like a reminder that she was around, and everything was going to be all right. So it felt good.”

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Here are five takeaways from what he, along with Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh, had to say about the blockbuster signing.

1. Getting Henry was a long time coming for the Ravens.

Former Alabama teammate and current Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey proclaimed his shock that Henry would once again be his teammate over X, formerly known as Twitter.

“No way we was texting yesterday and you didn’t even say nothing about this lol,” posted Humphrey, whom Henry affectionately referred to as “social media man Marlon.”

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But the move had been in the works for a long time. DeCosta confirmed Thursday that the Ravens attempted to get Henry at the trade deadline. He thought they were going to get the trade with the Tennessee Titans done but was disappointed instead and pivoted.

DeCosta had been pondering the addition of Henry even before that. It dates to 2019, following Henry’s 1,504-yard season, which included an upset playoff win over the Ravens in which Henry rushed for 195 yards. It was Henry’s first Pro Bowl season and DeCosta’s first season as a general manager.

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At the Pro Bowl that year, DeCosta observed Henry, and what he saw “resonated” with him.

“I watched how the other players related to him,” DeCosta said. “I watched and saw his humility. This is a guy who ran for like — I don’t know how many yards that season — and all the players kind of gravitated towards him that week, and it was a tremendous respect.”

Four years later, DeCosta finally got Henry to come to Baltimore. Maybe it was the right time. Maybe it was fate. After all, purple is Henry’s favorite color.

2. It should be fun for everyone.

Harbaugh is unique in that his last stop before becoming a head coach was as special teams coordinator. He’s not known, then, to favor one side of the ball over the other, the way some coaches are.

But he views the Henry signing as one that should make life easier for his offensive and defensive staffs.

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The addition gives the offensive staff more options in game planning. He’s a “unicorn,” as DeCosta said; a 6-foot-2, 247-pound linebacker-size runner who reached the highest speed of all running backs last season. He’s rushed for 1,000 yards in five of eight seasons and finished just shy in a sixth. The schematic possibilities with Henry on your roster, to pair with quarterback Lamar Jackson, are exciting.

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“I think you always try to build the offense around the players that you have,” Harbaugh said. “What Derrick does really exceptionally well is going to be where we’re going to move towards, but we’re versatile. We can go in a lot of different directions.”

Just as exciting? The prospect of not having to game plan for Henry.

“They don’t have to tackle this guy anymore,” Harbaugh said with a laugh.

Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh laughs during a news conference at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on Thursday, March 14. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

In four games against the Ravens, Henry has scored three touchdowns and rushed for an average of 69.3 yards. And that’s not even that bad compared to his average of 111.8 yards per game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Guess who’s on the Ravens’ schedule next year.

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The Super Bowl-champion Chiefs.

3. Yes, Henry has daydreamed about what it will be like to play with Jackson.

Basically every prospect who was asked at the NFL combine about Jackson said it would be a dream to play with him. At 30, Henry is no different.

“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Henry said. “He’s one of the best, if not the best player in this league. I’ve had respect for him ever since he came into this league, his body of work and what he’s been able to do.”

Henry’s and Jackson’s running styles are very different — one is about power and the other elusiveness — but there’s one thing they share. No opponent can afford to overlook what they can do. Henry said he’s familiar with how dynamic Jackson is from the way the Titans game planned for him.

4. DeCosta knows there’s more work to be done.

Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike’s extension and Henry’s new contract are the showiest pieces of news you’ll see from the Ravens offseason, but there are many more holes to fill.

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With left guard John Simpson departing in free agency and right tackle Morgan Moses headed to the New York Jets in a trade, the Ravens have a lot of questions at offensive line. They’ve got young players in the wings and a first-round pick in a strong offensive line class, but it’s imperative for them to find blockers for Henry and Jackson.

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta speaks with a reporter following a news conference at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on Thursday, March 14. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“So that will be the mission in the coming weeks, to build that out,” DeCosta said. “I think we’re on our way. We have a good plan. We’re fortunate that this draft class is pretty good from that standpoint. I don’t want to call it historically strong, but it looks like a very strong crop of offensive linemen. I say this every year, but as a wise man once said, ‘We don’t play games until September. We’ll be ready.’”

The same goes for wide receiver. The Ravens return Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor, but they need more depth. DeCosta also referenced the draft when asked about that position.

5. Running back is still a huge area of need.

Henry has been a workhorse throughout his career, but that doesn’t mean he should continue to be. He has been averaging around 300 carries per season over the last five years; that’s a lot of wear.

Last year, the Ravens ran by committee, with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill splitting reps with contributions from Keaton Mitchell when he was healthy.

Edwards is headed to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, but Hill is still on the roster.

“We feel really good about Justice, too,” DeCosta said. “Justice Hill was one of the unsung heroes of our team, I would say, in 2023.”

Mitchell is more of a question mark after suffering a season-ending injury that required surgery. DeCosta said the medical staff has told him Mitchell is on a “path to come back at some point this season.”

That leaves the Ravens on the market for at least two running backs via the draft and free agency.

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“We’ll assess the market like we always do,” DeCosta said. “There are some players out there, still, that are pretty interesting players. The draft is another way for us to get better, and we’ll attack it in different ways depending on the situation, depending on the value that we see. We’ve drafted guys, we’ve signed undrafted free agents, we’ve traded for running backs, and there are a lot of ways to skin the cat, so to speak.”

Even so, DeCosta feels they’re in a good spot.

“The cupboard’s not bare,” DeCosta said. “We got this guy, so I think we’re in good shape.”

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