Stay or go: Projecting the Bengals top upcoming 2023 free agents
Bengals likely to freshen up the running back room for 2023
The Bengals’ offensive staff was bullish about how they planned to use Joe Mixon in 2021. He was set to become a proper 3-down back; however, the plan was eventually shelved. Mixon became less visible in critical, short-yardage situations with Samaje Perine stepping in.
Perine was a reliable stand-in for the most part. He contributed 246 yards at 4.47 yards per carry in the regular season. Unfortunately, fans will most remember him for his failure to secure a first down on a short third down late in the Super Bowl.
Zac Taylor and staff trust Perine and believe he offers the best reserve option to Mixon as things stand. That could change in 2022 with the emergence of Chris Evans. The second-year running back is a proficient blocker and more dynamic than Perine in the passing game.
If Evans can supplant Perine, you can expect him to see out his contract and move on. Mixon has two more years after this one, but there will be an eye on the future with him approaching 30. The 2023 NFL Draft could see the Bengals invest in a rookie with all-around potential to fill their third running back slot.
Verdict: Perine has been a trusty servant to the offense, but this year should be his last before the running back room needs a refresh.