While everyone is much more concerned about what the Cincinnati Bengals front office will do next offseason, as they'll have to allocate funds and decide whether or not they should (or even have the money) keep guys like Tee Higgins, D.J. Reader, Logan Wilson, Chidobe Awuzie, and more, this off-season has presented a few difficult decisions for the team to make.
Whether it be in pending free agents, the upcoming draft, or specific situations revolving around a single player, these upcoming months will be more impactful on the Bengals' future than most fans realize. Tough decisions will have to be made for the better-- or perhaps worse-- of the team, players and fans alike will be forced to say goodbye to long-time favorites, and some shocking outcomes may come from these decisions as these next few months progress.
Here are three of what are the most difficult and maybe even most important decisions the Bengals front office will have to make in the 2023 off-season.
Keep or cut Joe Mixon?
Even taking into account Joe Mixon's injury that sidelined him for a few games coming out of the BYE week, this season has been rather disappointing for the veteran running back. He saw some of the lowest averages of his career, both per game and per attempt, and only got into the end zone nine times this year in the regular season after a career-high 16 touchdowns last year and five of those came in the game against the Panthers.
I know his injury could be to blame for that, but last year Mixon only played two (and a half, as he left midway through the Steelers game) more games than he did this year, so that margin of scores between the two is still rather alarming.
All of this has led many fans to believe (and hope) that they get rid of the former Sooner this season, whether that be by trading him or just outright cutting him from the team. The Bengals would be freeing up money either way, but there is always the possibility they end up keeping him if they still feel like they need him for their offense.
Given all their options with Mixon, I feel this will be a much more difficult decision for the front office than fans are making it out to be. In fact, I'd argue it's the most difficult one they'll have to address this offseason, and that's taking into account Jessie Bates' contract.
Speaking of Bates...