The Cincinnati Bengals should seemingly be in the market for a veteran running back. They lost Samaje Perine via free agency, and if they wanted to create some cap space, they could have reworked Joe Mixon’s deal or gotten rid of him.
So when the rumor was reported that the Bengals were one of the final three teams for Ezekiel Elliott, it made a little sense.
As it turns out, head coach Zac Taylor was pretty quick to refute the rumor in an interview with WCPO Cincinnati.
“There’s a lot of great players that are available right now,” Taylor told Mike Dyer from WCPO. “We like our team as where it’s at right now. It’s always funny when things get thrown around. Sometimes it’s the first you hear of it, but that’s just the way life works.”
It is about the closest you will hear a coach basically say something isn’t happening. You obviously don’t want to burn any bridges at this point, but it seems they are ready to go into the NFL Draft with Mixon as the RB1 despite speculation to the contrary.
If we can talk hypothetically, it wouldn’t necessarily be a Mixon or Elliott argument if Elliott would be willing to accept a Perine-type role. Although, if they went towards giving Elliott an affordable deal, it would make sense to go all the way and also draft a running back so that spot doesn’t really have a significant cap hit attached to it for a while.
It should also be noted that the team stands to create $12 million in cap space by granting Jonah Williams’ request to be traded, which is more than the roughly $10 million the team stands to gain by cutting Mixon with a post-June 1st designation.
The main question would be, what would they even use that cap space on now? The free agents they are looking at right now are bargain bin-level free agents who don’t command huge contracts. There really isn’t a player out there that they could realistically use this space on. It doesn’t make sense to move on from Mixon just for the sake of it if there isn’t a corresponding move attached to it.
It doesn’t seem like we will have to worry about that right now, though. Cincinnati hasn’t really been attached to any veteran running backs in any serious capacity, so they are happy with their room, for now.