The one key date to know regarding Joe Mixon's future with the Bengals

Fans in Cincinnati will want to circle this date on the Calendar.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

When it comes to Joe Mixon's future with the Cincinnati Bengals, there's one key date to circle on the calendar: March 18. It's on that date that Mixon's $3 million roster bonus for next season becomes fully guaranteed.

So, if the Bengals don't view Mixon as a piece of the puzzle moving forward, or simply aren't interested in paying out the roster bonus, they'll want to cut bait before then. If Mixon remains on the roster after that date, it's likely he'll be on the roster next season.

Mixon, 27, is coming off of a solid season for the Bengals in which he ran for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had three receiving touchdowns and 376 yards. Given his production, you'd think that the Bengals would want to keep him in town, but you just never know in the NFL.

Duke Tobin was noncommittal about Mixon's role moving forward

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin addressed Mixon's future in Cincinnati at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and while he had a lot of positive things to say about Mixon's play last season, he remained pretty noncommittal about the back's role moving forward.

"I can tell you his role this past year was good," Tobin said. "He had a really good season for us. I was proud of him, over 1,000 yards, double-digit touchdowns, and was a big factor for us. In terms of predicting anybody's role going forward, I'm not going to do that up here on the podium.

"Those are roster-building strategies and those are things that we're talking through as this whole thing unfolds with every player on our roster," he added. "It's not specific to just one. Really proud of Joe and the season he had. He did a lot of things to help us get to a point where we had a chance and we didn't get over the hump but he put us in a position to have a chance."

Tobin also touched on the roster bonus specifically, stating that it doesn't complicate Cincinnati's offseason approach.

"It doesn't complicate it," Tobin said. "We put it in there for a reason. And his agent wanted it in there for a reason. From our strategy standpoint and what we intend to do, I'm not going to get into that with any of our players."

With the deadline date of March 18 rapidly approaching, we won't have to wait too long to find out what the Bengals decide to do.