The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is over, and the Cincinnati Bengals came away with a shiny new pass rusher in Clemson Tigers defender Myles Murphy. This doesn’t necessarily fill a need right now as Murphy likely will be a rotational piece this upcoming season, and the Bengals do still need a tight end, more depth at corner, and possibly a new right tackle, especially if the team decides to trade Jonah Williams.
Another possible need is at running back. Joe Mixon is due $12.76 million this season, but the Bengals can save just over $10 million of that money if they release him after June 1, something most analysts believe they’ll do.
Having lost Samaje Perine in free agency, though, would leave them without a running back with experience on the roster. Mixon also struggled this past season. With only 814 yards, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and had six games where his longest run was only a single-digit number.
Where Mixon struggled the most, though, was as an extra pass protector for quarterback Joe Burrow.
Some draft experts, including both Mel Kiper Jr. and Lance Zierlein, had the Bengals selecting Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 28 overall pick. The Detroit Lions shocked the world, though, when they selected Gibbs with their No. 12 overall selection. Considering their last-ranked defense and the fact they already had D’Andre Swift, and they signed free agent David Montgomery to a three-year deal, drafting Gibbs was a shock.
Now it appears the Lions are looking to trade Swift.
Sources: The #Lions are receiving trade calls on running back D’Andre Swift, whose representatives have been in contact with the team about potentially moving to a new team. With Detroit drafting Jahmyr Gibbs, the talented Swift appears poised to leave Detroit. pic.twitter.com/Rkf16dylaL— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 28, 2023
With the Bengals likely looking to upgrade the position, Swift could be a prime target. There are still running backs to be had in the draft, but they would already know what they have in Swift. He’s only 24 years old, and he would be a cheap option for the season, owed only $2.716 million in the last year of his rookie deal.
Swift only carried the ball 99 times in 2022 for 542 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He also added 48 receptions for 389 yards and an additional three touchdowns.
The biggest difference between Swift and Mixon might be their ability to pass block. Swift had a pass-blocking score of 73.9 in 2023, going the entire season without allowing a single pressure, hit, or sack. Mixon had a score of 34.9, allowing three sacks, one hit, and four pressures. Mixon’s inability to pass black is one of the major reasons he wasn’t able to play in the bulk of the AFC Championship game last season, which is a bad look for the highest-paid player on the offense.
Swift has had injury concerns in the past, but with a cheap enough asking price, he could help the Bengals win big in 2023, even if he’s just a one-year rental player. If they trade for Swift, they could still select a running back this season to help share the load and possibly take over in 2024.
Adding to this, CBS Sports’ Chris Towers called Cincinnati one of the best spots for Swift to land.
This one would be dependent on the Bengals moving on from Joe Mixon, but if they did, Swift could be a tremendous fit in Cincinnati’s offense. They like to use one back heavily, with Mixon and Samaje Perine combining for 248 carries and 89 targets in 16 starts between them. Swift’s ability to stay healthy is a major question, but he might have top-five potential in an explosive offense like Cincy’s.
If the price is right, Swift could be a huge addition for the Bengals in 2023. Not only would he likely be an upgrade over Mixon, especially as a pass protector, but he would be cheaper, and it would free up over $10 million for the team to spend elsewhere. It seems like a win for both teams, and likely for Swift as well.
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