The Cincinnati Bengals and running back Joe Mixon agreed to a contract restructure prior to training camp getting underway. It is never an easy thing for a player to accept less money, but the Bengals left the door open for the running back to make close to his original amount.
Most importantly, Mixon got to stay on a very competitive team with an opportunity to still be paid as a top-10 running back if he hits his incentives.
This entire situation seemed to be handled well by both sides. The Bengals’ Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin noted that he appreciated the way his running back worked with the team.
“[Mixon] handled it very professionally, understood,” Tobin said. “He’s motivated. He wants to win. He’s always been highly competitive. And we tried to find something that worked for everybody and we think we did. And proud of Joe for going through it and handling it. Sometimes we have to do what we feel is best for the entire football team. And I was proud of the way he did that. He’s the guy we think he is. He’s a motivated player that wants to win.”
Many have speculated that the space created by the restructure could be used in contract negotiations with quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins. It could help front load their deals easier in order to help cap space in upcoming offseasons with other young players needing deals as well.
Mixon also, unfortunately, finds himself playing a position that just had a brutal offseason. Players like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard all were franchise tagged and failed to reach long-term deals.
Also, Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott were released from their deals and remain free agents. Cincinnati, from a business standpoint, did not have to make this deal the way they did as they seemed to have all the leverage, but they still found a way to do right by their running back.
“Unfortunately, sometimes you have to make some hard decisions,” Tobin said. “And we felt like this was one of them. But we came to a solution that we all felt good about.”
Now Mixon gets to stay on a winning roster he has watched first-hand turn into a Super Bowl contender from one of the worst in the NFL, and the Bengals get to keep a player they value on the field as well as in the locker room. They also don’t have to worry about finding a replacement right before training camp.