Joe Mixon

Bengals Hope To Extend Joe Mixon

The 2017 draft class produced many of the league’s starting running backs, and beyond the recently extended Christian McCaffrey, some of the top names have begun discussing new deals. Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon comprise this contingent thus far.

Set to employ Joe Burrow on a rookie salary through at least 2022, the Bengals will have more financial flexibility in the next few years. And they want to extend Mixon. One season remains on the former second-rounder’s rookie contract.

He’s in a year that he can be extended, and he is a guy that we visited with,” Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said during an interview with 700 WLW’s Lance McAllister (via Pro Football Talk). “We’ll go through those discussions and see if there is a fit or a match for a long-term contract with him, obviously a guy we value quite a bit. The great thing about Joe is he goes about it the right way.

… He’s the type of guy you want to lock up to a long-term deal. We’ll see if we can find the commonality to get that done over time here.”

Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons, doing so without the aid of an upper-echelon offensive line in either season. The former Oklahoma back finished last season with 100-yard games in three of Cincinnati’s final four games. The Bengals are unlikely to venture into the salary range of McCaffrey’s running back-record $16MM-per-year deal, and the franchise will surely take into account the expensive contracts for backs that have not worked out — from Todd Gurley to David Johnson to Le’Veon Bell.

The Bengals and Mixon may have to work out a compromise that places him in the upper reaches of the running back market. Unless the Bengals plan to use their franchise tag on A.J. Green again next year, they would have that in play for Mixon. The Titans and Cardinals respectively tagged Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, with Arizona deploying the transition tag, and the Bengals will have that as leverage in talks with their 23-year-old starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Griffen, Robinson, Bengals

Everson Griffen is one of the top two pass rushers still on the market, and we heard last month that he would probably not re-sign with the Vikings. However, Minnesota did not do much to add to its pass rushing corps in the draft, with South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum representing the most notable addition. And while GM Rick Spielman acknowledged that his team’s cap space makes it difficult to bring Griffen back, he did not rule it out.

“It is hard to say right now where everything is at and where we are at, [but] until things become more normalized I will never say never on a player,” Spielman recently said on the #PFTPM podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “[Y]our roster is never set.”

Griffen has expressed an interest in joining the Seahawks, but Seattle is still open to bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. If Clowney returns to the ‘Hawks, perhaps Griffen will settle for a one-year deal on a Minnesota defense that he will not have to learn on the fly.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Of the three OTs the Vikings added in this year’s draft, only second-rounder Ezra Cleveland profiles as an immediate threat to incumbent LT Riley Reiff. The team could again entertain the notion of kicking Reiff inside to LG, but that’s only if Cleveland proves himself ready for starting left tackle duties, which would be a tall order given the COVID-19 restrictions. So as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune suggests, Reiff will likely stay at LT for the time being, and 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia will compete with Pat Elflein for the starting LG slot. The team could also target a free agent for that role, including Josh Kline, whom the Vikings released in a cost-cutting move in March.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson said towards the end of last season that he is interested in an extension with Chicago, but the two sides do not appear to be close to a new deal, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Robinson is ticketed for free agency after the 2020 campaign, and Biggs suggests that the franchise tag could be in play if there is no extension in place by the second month of the season.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says both A.J. Green and the Bengals have interest in getting a long-term deal done, but it’s unclear exactly how much interest. He expects that nothing will come together prior to the July 15 deadline, which means Green will have to play out the 2020 season on his franchise tender. While there’s a better chance Cincinnati comes to terms with RB Joe Mixon on a new contract, that will not happen before a decision on Green is made. The Bengals are reportedly bracing themselves for a Mixon holdout.
  • In the same piece linked above, Dehner says the Bengals are unlikely to make any free agent additions to the O-line at this point. In a separate piece, he notes that Cincinnati made a free agent splash on cornerbacks in free agency because it did not like this year’s CB draft class. The team did not take a defensive back with any of its seven selections.

North Notes: Mixon, Browns, OBJ, Vikings

Although Christian McCaffrey landed his extension, the other members of 2017’s loaded running back class remain on rookie deals. The BengalsJoe 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.

AFC North Notes: Berry, Ravens, Mixon

Let’s take a quick swing around the AFC North:

  • The Browns hired former Eagles’ VP of Football Operations Andrew Berry to be their GM and EVP of Football Operations today, and he will report directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, just like new head coach Kevin Stefanski and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks it’s fair to wonder whether Berry will really have final say over roster decisions, as his contract says he will. Of course, in order to pry Berry away from Philadelphia, Cleveland needed to give him such power contractually, but whether Berry will be permitted to fully use that power is another story. Stefanski and DePodesta may not be keen on consistently yielding to Berry, who was probably the team’s No. 2 choice behind Vikings exec George Paton.
  • In 2019, the Ravens made a number of in-season signings to bolster their defense that ended up paying major dividends. Baltimore has already inked one such acquisition, L.J. Fort, to a two-year extension, and Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic believes the club could also look to re-sign OLB/DE Jihad Ward and DT Justin Ellis.
  • Many have noted the Ravens‘ need to add pass rushing talent, and much of that discussion has focused on edge rushers. But in the same piece, Zrebiec says Baltimore will think long and hard about selecting a quality pass-rushing interior defensive lineman if one is available near the end of the first round. The Ravens haven’t really had such a player since the heyday of Haloti Ngata.
  • Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic lays out a number of moves he believes the Bengals should make this offseason. The entire piece is worth a read for Cincy fans, but one move that Dehner thinks is especially likely to come to fruition is an extension for running back Joe Mixon. We recently heard that director of player personnel Duke Tobin would explore a new contract for his RB1, and such a deal won’t be cheap.

Bengals Personnel Director On Green, Dalton, Mixon

Bengals receiver A.J. Green missed the entire 2019 campaign due to an ankle injury, and the last time he suited up for a game was in Week 13 of the 2018 regular season. Given his age (he will be 32 by the time the 2020 regular gets underway) and recent injury history, there has been plenty of speculation that the rebuilding Cincinnati outfit might move on from its franchise icon this offseason.

But that’s not necessarily the case. On Wednesday, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told reporters, including Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that he plans on having Green back in 2020 (Twitter link). Tobin said “all options are on the table,” which presumably means that the franchise tag and a multiyear pact are in play. Green has previously indicated that he is opposed to the franchise tag, though he did concede that he would not engage in a season-long holdout if he is hit with the tag.

The tag value for wideouts checks in at a whopping $18.5MM, a lot of coin for an aging player who has missed 23 of his team’s last 24 games. A long-term deal would also be quite costly, because with a fairly light free agent receiver class — which gets a lot lighter if Amari Cooper and Emmanuel Sanders re-up with their current teams — Green would likely still command top-dollar on the open market.

On the other hand, a receiver of Green’s caliber would be a major boon to the team’s offense, especially if the Bengals draft Joe Burrow and put him under center right away. The two sides were recently said to be far apart on contract talks, so this is shaping up to be one of this offseason’s most prominent storylines.

Tobin also touched on quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Joe Mixon. The consensus seems to be that the Bengals will look to trade Dalton or cut him if the right deal comes along, but there is also a possibility that he returns as a bridge to Burrow, as Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com writes. As with Green, Tobin said he has not ruled out any options when it comes to Dalton.

Mixon, meanwhile, is eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason, and Tobin plans to explore that possibility. Despite being one of the few dangerous skill position players on the team in 2019, Mixon went over 1,100 yards rushing for the second straight season, and he certainly looks the part of a long-term feature back.

Tobin suggested that the Bengals may be more active in the free agent market than they historically have been, but if they are earmarking a significant amount of money for Mixon and Green, they may not be able to spend as freely as they might like. But they should have enough cap space to make a few key signings, especially if they part ways with Dalton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Mixon, Mayfield, Mahomes

Week 1 of the NFL season unfortunately saw a bunch of big names go down. Nick Foles is out indefinitely after breaking his clavicle, and Tyreek Hill will miss a few games with a shoulder issue. They weren’t the only ones to suffer potentially significant injuries, and we’ve got all the latest updates down below:

  • The 49ers already suffered a blow to their deep backfield when they placed Jerick McKinnon on IR prior to the start of the season, and now they’re down another member of the group. Tevin Coleman was knocked out of their Week 1 game against the Bucs by an ankle injury, and he left the locker room with a boot on his foot, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Maiocco notes he’ll have an MRI on Monday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game he was “concerned” about Coleman’s ankle, Matt Barrows of the Athletic tweeted. Shanahan also implied the team will promote Jeff Wilson Jr. from the practice squad, and said the team will look at adding outside running back help. Matt Breida figures to take on a more prominent role in the meantime while Coleman is sidelined.
  • Speaking of running backs with ankle injuries, Joe Mixon suffered one of his own. The Bengals’ runner is “believed to have just an ankle sprain,” according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, who tweets that “early reports [are] optimistic.” It’s unclear how sever the ankle sprain is, although fortunately it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a longterm absence for the Oklahoma product.
  • Baker Mayfield had a rough game in his highly anticipated 2019 debut. He threw three interceptions, and to make matters worse also hurt his hand. Mayfield had his wrist and hand wrapped and went for an X-Ray after the Browns’ to the Titans, sparking some concern. Fortunately he suffered only a bruise and the injury is “not considered serious,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • Fans were also left holding their breath when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went limping off the field. Mahomes returned to Kansas City’s win over the Jaguars, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game Mahomes had a sprained ankle, according to Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It doesn’t sound like Mahomes will miss any games, although his mobility may be limited moving forward.
  • The Falcons got blown out by the Vikings, and they also lost a key piece. The team fears that rookie first-round pick Chris Lindstrom fractured his foot, according to Jay Glazer of The Athletic (Twitter link). Lindstrom won the competition to start at right guard, and the organization thinks very highly of the 14th overall pick. Lindstrom’s rookie year could be over, as former NFL team doctor David Chao tweets the type of fracture “will determine if part of the season can be salvaged.” Even if he does make it back, it won’t be for a while.

La Canfora’s Latest: Steelers, Bengals, Bucs

Antonio Brown‘s decision to skip practice on Monday represented a culmination of months of tension between the Steelers and their All-Pro receiver, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Brown was upset earlier this year after being told that his personal trainer and social media manager would no longer be welcome on Pittsburgh’s practice field, and some within the organization believe his multi-day absence during training camp — ostensibly due to a injury — was instead related to his disappointment. Ultimately, the Steelers believe Brown simply wants to win, but there is reportedly also concern with the club that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s close relationship with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner (and his subsequent influence on play-calling) could cause more strain in the locker room.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon could potentially return to the field in time for Week 4, per La Canfora. Mixon underwent knee surgery immediately following Cincinnati’s Week 3 Thursday night victory, and initial assessments indicated he could be sidelined two-to-four weeks. However, because the Bengals played mid-week in Week 3, Mixon’s timeline could be sped up, meaning he could return to action when Cincinnati faces Atlanta next Sunday. A second-round pick in 2017, Mixon was outstanding during the Bengals’ season opener, averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry on the ground while adding five receptions in the passing game. Backup Giovani Bernard is holding down the fort while Mixon is out, while the Bengals also have Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls on their running back depth chart.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is unlikely to be replaced as the Buccaneers‘ starting quarterback no matter how he fares against the Steelers on Monday night, reports La Canfora. While Jameis Winston will come off suspension prior to Week 4, Fitzpatrick has been among the league’s best quarterbacks through two games, as he leads the NFL passing yardage while racking up eight passing touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has internal support within the locker room (and especially from Tampa Bay’s offensive line), so the club’s coaching staff is unlikely to make a change any time soon. The Buccaneers face the Bears in Week 4 before heading into a bye the following week.
  • The Raiders will move to Las Vegas either in 2019 or 2020, and they could potentially need a temporary stadium for the 2019 campaign if no extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority can be reached. With that in mind, the Raiders have contacted the city of San Diego about playing there next season, says La Canfora, who notes that such as possibility is viewed as remote. More likely, the Raiders will play one year in Oakland, or spend next season sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

AFC North Notes: Gordon, Steelers, Mixon

Josh Gordon trekked to the Browns facility Saturday complaining of hamstring trouble, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), and that’s resulted in the team ruling him out for Sunday’s game against the Saints. Gordon did not travel with the Browns to New Orleans.

This escalated rapidly. Gordon was expected to suit up in Week 2 after playing in Week 1. But the receiver with a notorious penchant for unavailability was slow to return from his latest hiatus because of hamstring pain. Cleveland will attempt to stun New Orleans without him, and Gordon will miss yet another game. After Sunday, the 2013 All-Pro will have missed 55 of the Browns’ past 66 games.

From a player who’s struggled to a historic degree to stay on the field to one whose voluntary absence has generated one of the most unique holdouts in NFL history, here’s the latest from the AFC North.

  • The Steelers took Le’Veon Bell off their depth chart this week and barely anything came out of this saga this week. The running back remains absent from his team and will miss out on another $853K game check, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Bell will have lost $1.7MM by the end of Week 2. This preservation-based holdout has generated concerns from around the league, and even if Bell limits himself to a half-season’s worth of work or less, he will still go into free agency with far more carries than typical running backs seeking second contracts do. Bell has 1,229 totes already, and that’s with him missing 19 career games. By season’s end, assuming he returns, that number figures to reside around at least 1,400. Seeking a Todd Gurley– or David Johnson-level pact is complicated by the fact those younger backs have 1,244 career carries combined.
  • Ben Roethlisberger‘s full practice Friday probably gave this away, but he is slated to play Sunday. ESPN.com’s Diana Russini tweets the 15th-year Steelers quarterback will suit up against the Chiefs in Week 2. An elbow injury cropped up and caused Big Ben to miss Pittsburgh’s Wednesday and Thursday practices, but he’ll be back for a key AFC matchup. With Roethlisberger in the lineup, the Steelers — counting 2016’s divisional-round win — have beaten the Chiefs six straight times dating back to the 2011 season. Kansas City’s one win over Pittsburgh this decade came in 2015 with Landry Jones at the controls.
  • Joe Mixon underwent knee surgery and is set to miss between two and four weeks of Bengals action. The surgery involving a small particle in Mixon’s knee being removed went well, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. This would explain the positive outlook the second-year running back’s received. Bengals brass initially feared Mixon would miss up to six games.

Bengals’ Joe Mixon To Miss 2-4 Weeks

Joe Mixon has already undergone surgery to repair a recent knee issue and will be out for a bit. However, the Bengals running back received some good news on this front.

A two- to four-week timetable now exists for Mixon’s recovery, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. But the Bengals’ initial expectation was for their starting running back to miss between four and six weeks, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so the second-year player encountered a less troublesome setback than initial fears indicated.

It’s possible, with the Bengals on a mini-bye because of their Thursday-night assignment, Mixon could miss merely one game — Week 3 against the Panthers — according to Rapoport. That might be pushing it, however, given the team’s worries at this process’ outset. The Bengals face the Falcons in Week 4; both of these upcoming NFC South contests are road games, however. Cincinnati then hosts Miami and Pittsburgh in Weeks 5 and 6.

Mixon injured his right knee in the Bengals’ Week 2 win over the Ravens. He’s off to a strong start, rushing for 179 yards (4.7 per carry) and a touchdown and totaling 57 receiving yards on just six catches. Passing-down back Giovani Bernard figures to see the bulk of the work during Mixon’s absence, just as he did when Mixon missed time in December of last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Fear Joe Mixon Needs Knee Surgery

UPDATE: Mixon will have a procedure to remove a “small particle in his knee that was dislodged Thursday night” on Saturday according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Schefter notes the operation is expected to sideline Mixon for just two weeks.

Joe Mixon missed part of Thursday night’s game, and the Bengals fear he’ll have to miss more time because of the knee injury he’s now battling.

The Bengals are concerned their starting running back will need to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report (on Twitter). Mixon will seek a second opinion.

While having a knee scoped is not a season-ending development in most cases, it almost certainly would cause the second-year back to miss time. Mixon’s off to a good start, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and it’s helped the Bengals to a 2-0 record.

Mixon missing games would mean plenty of Giovani Bernard snaps. While the longtime Bengal is not a traditional between-the-tackles grinder, he’s in his sixth season with the team and now resides as the unquestioned top backup after Jeremy Hill‘s free agency departure.

Behind Bernard sit fourth-round rookie Mark Walton and third-year UDFA Tra Carson. Neither has recorded an NFL carry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.