As the Cincinnati Bengals prepare to pick No. 1 in the NFL Draft this month, they have another decision to make, that of their No. 1 running back’s future with the team. Joe Mixon, who had a strong second half of 2019, appears prepared to sit out unless he receives a new contract, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic.
Mixon enters his contract year this season and like many other starting running backs before him, he wants some guarantees and extra cash before playing the final deal on his rookie contract that will pay him $1.2 million. The shelf-life of a running back is short in the NFL and asking for a raise and a new contract is smart. Mixon was the Bengals offense in 2019 as he rushed 278 times for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns, adding 35 receptions for 287 yards and three more touchdowns.
The Panthers Christian McCaffrey just signed a deal making him the highest paid running back in the league, but on average, running backs aren’t getting big deals like that anymore. The value of the position has degraded over the last few years and teams have found better ways to allocate their money to take care of the position while spending up at key positions like quarterback and left tackle.
Mixon won’t get near the money McCaffrey did, but the Bengals appear ready to make a deal with him, but his asking price will need to be conservative or they’ll likely walk away and go with their backups Trayveon William and Gio Bernard if Mixon sits out and then draft a running back in 2021 or even grab one later this year if they feel Mixon is going to play hardball.