The Cincinnati Bengals have some big questions at running back heading into next season.
Will we see Jeremy Hill regain his 2014 form? Will Giovani Bernard recover from his ACL tear? Can Joe Mixon live up to the hype?
For now, we can only guess the answers to these questions, but we can give an accurate breakdown of what each player on the roster will be making from a financial aspect. While this isn’t a position that gets a lot of praise, the Bengals are actually paying a good amount of cash to their running backs.
According to Spotrac, the Bengals have the 13th-biggest cap hit at running back for 2017, which accounts for 5.72 percent of the team’s overall cap hit this year. That’s highlighted by Bernard’s contract, which is actually a very good one for the Bengals, as it pays him just $3,675,000 in 2017. The number does jump to more than $4 million in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Bernard is also going to have a dead cap hit of $2,250,000 if cut this year, and it doesn’t get much smaller at $1,500,000 in 2018. There’s almost no chance Bernard is cut before then unless his knee injury turns out to be worse than we realized, or he suffers some other catastrophic injury.
After Bernard, Hill has the next biggest cap hit at $1,194,328. Veteran running back Cedric Peerman isn’t far behind with his $1,087,500 cap hit. If Hill is cut, the Bengals will have $262,473 in dead cap. For Peerman, that number is just $100,000.
As for second round pick Joe Mixon, he will have a cap hit of $990,938 this season while making a total of $1,362,544. Undrafted free agents Jarveon Williams, Boom Williams and Tra Carson all are set to make $465,000 this year if they make the 53-man roster.
None of them will probably do so with Peerman, Bernard, Hill and Mixon likely having their spots secured. There’s always a chance one of those four main guys gets hurt, or someone drastically outperforms Peerman, but it’s more likely the undrafted guys are fighting for practice squad spots.
Interestingly enough, both Spotrac and Over The Cap have rookie Brandon Wilson listed as a running back, even though the Bengals are listing him as a safety. Wilson certainly has the potential to become an NFL running back down the line, but it doesn’t look like that’s the position he’ll play right away.
Regardless, Wilson has a cap hit of just $500,526, so his number doesn’t really affect how much the Bengals are committing to running backs this season. Here is a breakdown of the contracts for all the Bengals running backs, courtesy of Over The Cap: