When the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Mixon agreed to a restructured contract, any questions about who would be the team’s starting running back were answered.
Mixon has been successful in Cincinnati behind some questionable offensive lines, so when he and the team agreed to a reduced cap number, it seems to have worked out for both sides.
Behind Mixon is now where the running back room becomes questionable. In the past two seasons, Samaje Perine held down the backup running back role, and he did it pretty well. After departing for the Denver Broncos in free agency, Perine’s role is up for grabs.
The Bengals retained Trayveon Williams who entering camp, looked to be the frontrunner. After an ankle injury has kept him off the field, that is not a guarantee. They also brought back Chris Evans, who has struggled to find consistent playing time during his tenure. In April, the team selected talented running back Chase Brown out of Illinois.
One of those three will have to win the role, but who will it be?
We asked you in our SB Nation Reacts poll, and the results are in:
44% of voters think that Brown will have that role secured by Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. There is no shortage of talent with Brown, who ran for 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season at Illinois.
Williams isn’t too far behind, getting 37% of the vote. While he has been behind Mixon and Perine most of his career, Williams has shown some flashes in limited snaps out of the backfield. He also has more experience in not only the offense but the NFL, which could lead coaches to trust him more early on.
Evans has shown flashes himself but has not been able to earn consistent playing time, and it appears that with only 18% of the vote, not many fans expect to see that change.
In the Bengals' offense, one of the most important parts of a second running back’s job is pass protection. Often referred to as the “third-down back,” they will find themselves on the field in a lot of passing situations. Williams has done well in pass protection, Evans has said this off-season that he has been taking extra steps to improve as well. If Brown is going to earn the second running back job, he will likely have to shine in that regard as well.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.