Although Christian McCaffrey landed his extension, the other members of 2017’s loaded running back class remain on rookie deals. The Bengals‘ Joe Mixon resides in this camp. The sides have begun negotiations, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, who adds the Bengals are preparing for a Mixon holdout if no extension is agreed upon (subscription required). The Bengals are not prepared to pay Mixon on the $16MM-per-year level — the new standard for backs after McCaffrey’s deal — according to Dehner. The team would like to extend him, Dehner adds, just not in that price neighborhood. Cincinnati’s starting back is going into his age-24 season. Mixon’s contract does not contain a fifth-year option; he is set to earn $1.2MM next season.
With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott, the latest run of big-ticket running back contracts has mostly burned teams. Todd Gurley and David Johnson are elsewhere after signing lucrative Rams and Cardinals extensions, respectively, and Le’Veon Bell ($13.1MM AAV) did not fare well in his first Jets season. Despite playing behind shaky offensive lines, Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard rushing seasons. The Bengals have he, Giovani Bernard and 2019 draft choice Trayveon Williams under contract.
Here is more from the NFL’s North divisions:
- A rumor circulated Wednesday connecting the Browns to engaging in Odell Beckham Jr. trade discussions with the Vikings. The rumor indicated the proposed compensation discussed was a package featuring second- and fifth-round picks. Quickly debunking this, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports no such talks occurred (Twitter link). It would be odd to see the Vikings shed Stefon Diggs‘ contract only to add Beckham’s $18MM-AAV deal. Beckham was again mentioned in trade rumors at the end of last season, but the latest Browns regime said the plan is to keep the star wideout for the 2020 season. Beckham’s deal could become a trade asset at some point, with the Giants having eaten all the dead money associated with it.
- One of many defenders with whom the Browns agreed to one-year contracts, Karl Joseph remains in limbo to a degree. The former Raiders safety suffered a broken foot last season and underwent surgery. However, Joseph has not taken a Browns physical yet, Cabot notes. Joseph is the only member of this Browns free agency class not to have taken his physical, Cabot adds. There are no plans for Joseph to take a physical in the near future, but GM Andrew Berry does not expect this to be an issue that nixes the parties’ $2.5MM agreement.
- It’s been a while since the Packers have authorized a major running back extension, but they are discussing a new deal with Aaron Jones.