Joe Mixon may not be out of the woods quite yet in terms of his status on the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster.
However, comments from head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan made it appear Mixon’s job was safe, especially since the only other notable backs on the roster are rookie Chase Brown and seldom-used veterans Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans.
Not so fast.
In his latest column for The Athletic, Bengals beat writer Paul Dehner Jr. predicted that Mixon will ultimately agree to a contract restructure once the team signs Joe Burrow to his mega-extension.
My bold prediction: Once Burrow signs his contract, Higgins’ extension, Wilson’s extension and a Mixon restructure will all pop off within a week.
Going further, Dehner suggested the Bengals could go with a different veteran running back for next season if Mixon doesn’t agree to a restructured deal. Among the big names still available include Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Kareem Hunt.
The endgame will be about whether or not he’s willing to realign his $12.8 million cap hit and $10 million in cash to the current state of the running back market. If he’s not, the Bengals will probably tap into the veteran backwaters that are currently overflowing with victims of the philosophical shift away from paying the position.
If Mixon is released, the Bengals are on the hook for a $2,750,000 dead cap hit but will save $10,041,176 in 2023, according to Over The Cap. That kind of money would go a long way in having enough money to pay Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Logan Wilson once they sign contracts that will likely have all three among the top-paid players at their respective positions.
Plus, Mixon simply isn’t worth the contract he’s been paid right now. That’s just bad business if the Bengals enter Week 1 with Mixon still on the roster and raking in eight figures in cash.
For now, I’m going with Dehner’s prediction and will say Mixon is on the Week 1 roster but at a reduced salary.