Optimism for the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense is at an all-time high. But while the passing game gets most of the attention, the potential for Joe Mixon to have a career year in the backfield is also there.
After all, this should be the best combination of skill players and offensive linemen that Mixon has played behind since coming to the NFL.
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Oakley, CA
Experience: Seven years
Mixon was in the middle of a four-year, $48 million contract but was asked to restructure, and he obliged in order to stay in Cincinnati. His new, two-year deal is for $11.5 million. This year, he will earn $1 million in base salary, a $4.1 million roster bonus, and he’ll have the opportunity to make another $2 million in incentives.
The top-ranked high school running back chose to go to Oklahoma but was suspended his first year (2014) due to a misdemeanor assault charge. Though he only started three games in 2015, Mixon still totaled 753 yards on the ground, thanks to a gaudy 6.7 yards per carry. In 2016, he finished with 1,274 yards rushing (6.8 yards per attempt) and 538 yards receiving (14.5 yards per catch).
As a pro, Mixon has always looked like one of the most gifted running backs. But, unfortunately, he's had to run behind some pretty bad o-lines, even during the Bengals’ immense success over the last two seasons.
The veteran has three 1,000-yard seasons to his name, with his best year coming in 2018 when he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but he was only able to muster up 3.9 yards per run this past season.
For his career, Mixon’s average is a modest 4.1 yards per carry.
Entering the 2023 season, Mixon is already No. 5 in all-time rushing yardage by a Bengal. He needs just 365 yards to pass Pete Johnson and Rudi Johnson to move into No. 3 all-time.
And with 1,070 yards, Mixon could pass James Brooks to move into No. 2 in the franchise career rushing ranks.
Outlook for 2023 season
The Bengals put together a pretty solid o-line last year, but just as they were hitting their stride, La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa all went down. Having them back is great news for Mixon, but even bigger is the fact that he’ll have a massive tackle on the left side in Orlando Brown Jr., who was signed from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mixon will also have a reliable running back to provide relief in rookie Chase Brown. That means he won’t have to do too much and can save his legs for the postseason, where he’s had some big moments, especially against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round last year.
Joe Mixon was an absolute beast on SunDey imposing his will and fighting for every yard. As a Bengals fan you love to see him rolling at the right time! His line from SunDey:— GameOn513 (@gameonjmoney) January 25, 2023
20RUSH 105YDS 5.3YPC 1TD #RuleThePlayoffs #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/wTWnYVHHsL
Don’t expect Mixon to necessarily set a new career high in rushing yards, but you should expect his yards per carry to take a significant jump from last year’s number (3.9 yards per attempt).
Roster odds: 99%. Before the restructure, it was a little over 50%, but now that things have been worked out, there’s no way he’s cut (unless some new report emerges about an off-the-field incident).