The Cincinnati Bengals have had an offseason with a bit of change so far. They retained their staff, signed a franchise left tackle in Orlando Brown Jr., and added a new starting safety in Nick Scott.
However, they have lost two starting safeties in Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III, their starting tight end in Hayden Hurst, and another key contributor in running back Samaje Perine.
Many have wondered if more change in the running back room could come, with uncertainty surrounding Joe Mixon and the possibility of an Ezekiel Elliott signing. The Mixon debate has started a back-and-forth with Bengals fans that rivals the Penei Sewell vs. Ja’Marr Chase debate of 2021.
When speaking to the media this week, Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn was noncommittal about Mixon’s future.
“He’s (Mixon) done a lot of great things for the team. I think he’s still got a lot of great production in him,” Blackburn told Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson. “There is a whole myriad of things that can happen. And I don’t want to imply that anything is going to happen or not going to happen because it all can depend on so many other things. It’s a big jigsaw puzzle, and you put one piece in, and maybe that changes the way you see another piece. So we just have to wait and see how things play out a little bit.”
Planning that Mixon will be on the roster until he isn't does not sound like a glowing endorsement, but it doesn’t sound like an indication that Mixon will be cut, either.
On the subject of a Joe Burrow contract extension, Blackburn didn’t divulge much, either.
“We’ve got Joe Burrow, and we’ve got the stadium lease,” Blackburn said of the two biggest deals on the club’s agenda. “They’re both exciting opportunities. It’s that time that we are beginning to think about it.”
Blackburn did say that preliminary discussions with Burrow’s agent for an extension have taken place, and there’s even a vow of silence between the two parties in terms of speaking publicly about said discussions.
“I don’t know, the pace, but we hope that there’s something that can get done,” Blackburn said. “We sort of said we won’t talk about it much until there’s something to talk about.”
Basically, the Bengals aren’t in the business of making contract negotiations and roster construction public. There seems to be a race to get quarterbacks signed with Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts all looking for new contracts. The way the market goes, the next guy to get paid wants to top the last guy that got paid, so there is the motivation for each front office to move quickly (good luck, Baltimore).
The message from Blackburn is consistent with what we hear from the Bengals front office frequently: We will know when they’re ready for us to know.