The NFL Draft is merely days away at this point, and the future of running back Joe Mixon on the Cincinnati Bengals roster is still a heated topic among fans.
A positive note for him remaining on the roster has emerged from a very good source of information.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was on the Locked on Bengals Podcast talking about the 2023 Draft, and he had this to say about the prospect of drafting a running back.
“At this point, it's always going to be what complements Mixon for us,” Callahan said. “We have a runner, you know we have a first and second down style back. And so you try to find things that complement that, and that’s going to be things in the passing game.
“That’s going to be the protection role that’s moderately played, and it still has the ability to spell that part of the first [and] second down game, when needed. So you really want more of an all-around back that’s a little bit leaner in the pass protection and pass game quite a bit because that’s where we’re light in our running back room makeup at this point.”
That certainly seems like a point in the column for keeping Mixon on the roster, despite his recent legal troubles. And it could be the best result for both sides.
No one should be disputing that Mixon is a talented back. He has been able to do some great things in this offense when the offensive line hasn’t always been great.
The main issue is the cap space he takes up. Cincinnati could cut the running back with a post-June 1st designation and save around $10 million in cap space that could be crucial in helping keep another star offensive player.
There is also the possibility that Mixon and the Bengals will ultimately agree to rework his deal to create a significant amount of cap space and keep him on the roster.
This draft class is filled with a substantial amount of talent at the running back position. You could make the argument for probably a dozen that Cincinnati could draft and not be wrong. Plenty of those same backs fit exactly what Callahan is talking about here. We could even see the Bengals opt to double-dip at the position if they pick up some extra picks. It really comes down to whom the front office and coaches really value.
It would be great to have Mixon around to help bring along the next generation of running backs to come out of Cincinnati’s backfield, and if Callahan had it his way, it sounds like he would like him to do exactly that.