The Cincinnati Bengals' front office faces a crucial decision as running back Joe Mixon enters the final year of his contract in 2024. Since being drafted in 2017, Mixon has been a key player for the team over the past seven seasons.
Mixon has established himself as one of the franchise's most productive running backs, currently ranked third all-time in rushing yards just behind James Brooks. He is a mere 35 yards away from surpassing Brooks. However, it is worth noting that Mixon's performance has steadily declined over the last two seasons. While he did manage to surpass 1,000 yards in the past season, it occurred in Week 18 against the Browns.
In 2022, Mixon failed to rush for 1,000 yards. While he does bring energy to the team, catches the ball well from the backfield, and has been a good leader since he was drafted, it's important to make the right decision for the football team moving forward.
Based on Joe Mixon's recent production and the financial aspect, it seems like the right time for the Bengals to trade or release him. While it may be difficult to let go of a player who has contributed so much, football is ultimately a business.
It makes no sense for the Cincinnati Bengals to hang on to running back Joe Mixon
With a $8.5 million cap hit in 2024 according to Spotrac, and only one year left on his contract, it simply doesn't make sense to hold onto him. The Bengals should take advantage of the opportunity to trade his contract for draft picks or release him and let him become a free agent. By doing so, they can save a significant amount of money and allow Mixon to sign with a team of his choice.
Suppose Cincinnati doesn't consider Joe Mixon as a running back worth almost $9 million, especially when there's a cheaper option in Chase Brown, who has already shown some potential in a short amount of playing time. In that case, they should opt for riding with Brown instead. It's a general sense that Brown will get more carries in 2024, coupled with the fact that they have significant free agents like Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and DJ Reader, so it's better to use that money elsewhere.
Joe Mixon's most successful seasons with the team were undoubtedly in 2018, 2019, and 2021, despite missing the entirety of the 2020 season due to an injury. He put up impressive numbers, rushing for well over 1,000 yards in all three seasons and scoring a combined total of 26 touchdowns. While he has continued to be productive in the touchdown department over the last two seasons, scoring a respectable 16 touchdowns, it is worth noting that his overall yardage has suffered. With a total of 467 carries, he has only managed to rush for 1,848 total yards in the past two seasons combined.
The Bengals have three RB options if they move on from Joe Mixon
The Bengals have three potential options if they want to improve their running back position. They could either rely on Chase Brown and build the running back room around him, which is a plausible move, shift their focus to the NFL Draft, where the market is small, but Blake Corum is available, Or they could explore the free agency market and sign some notable names who could be cheaper options than Mixon.
Players like Devin Singletary, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and Cordarrelle Patterson are some good, affordable options on the market. Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Austin Ekeler are also expected to be available, but their demand would go far over Mixon’s. Therefore, these options may not make much sense unless Cincinnati is willing to invest heavily in the position.
Nontheless, Mixon has contributed immensely to the success and the resurgence of Bengals football over his tenure with the team and that will not and should not go unnoticed. Regardless if Mixon is with the team next season or not, he has been of the best running backs in the franchise's history.