Joe Mixon

AFC Notes: Mixon, Jets, Elway, Bell

Speaking with Sirius XM on Thursday, head coach Marvin Lewis delved into the Bengals’ decision to select controversial running back Joe Mixon with the 48th pick in the draft (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). The ex-Oklahoma Sooner was caught on video striking a woman back in 2014, which caused some teams to remove him from their draft boards. Not the Bengals, though, and Lewis explained that “a lot of time” and “a lot of research” went into picking Mixon. “Time spent with Joe. Time researching people around Joe. Joe’s past in East Bay [California],” he continued. “All those kinds of things that way. His past on campus at Oklahoma since the incident. So, there couldn’t be any other red flags to say, ‘Well, well, maybe…’ No, no, no. It had to be clean, and Joe knows that. He knows going forward, it has to stay clean all the time. He’s lived on the tip of the sword for three years now, and he’s got to continue to probably for the rest of his life.” If Mixon can avoid further off-field troubles, Lewis expects him to succeed in the pros, in part because “he’s off the charts talent-wise” and “as smart as a whip.”

More from the AFC:

  • In an interview with “Boomer & Carton” of WFAN on Thursday, Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall indicated that he requested his release from the rebuilding Jets in March because they’re not going anywhere in 2017 (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). “For me, I just knew I couldn’t be in that environment,” said Marshall, who holds the unfortunate distinction of being the league’s current longest-tenured player without a postseason appearance (11 years). “I think everyone knows the type of personality I am at this point in my career. I wouldn’t have made it through an entire season knowing that we didn’t have a chance. That’s all you want as a player — you just want a chance.” Long after they cut ties with Marshall, the Jets released fellow veterans Eric Decker and David Harris in June. Marshall took exception with the timing in both cases, arguing that “it was too late in free agency” and calling the Jets’ maneuverings with Decker and Harris “bad business.” Harris’ agents made it known after his release that they were unhappy with the Jets, but the 10-year veteran did end up latching on with the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots just over two weeks later.
  • Toward the end of May, Broncos general manager John Elway expressed confidence that he would sign a contract extension by the start of the season. No agreement has come to fruition in the month and a half since, but the Broncos and the contract-year executive “have maintained dialogue recently,” reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. Given that there’s no deal yet for Elway, the assumption is that discord or tension exists between the two sides, writes Jhabvala, but a team source shot down that notion.
  • The Steelers should not sign franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term deal by Monday’s deadline, opines Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Running backs have short shelf lives, contends Zeise, who points out that the 25-year-old Bell has already accumulated 1,135 touches (908 rushes, 227 receptions) during his four seasons in the league. Adding to the risk, the league has suspended Bell twice, meaning he might not be trustworthy enough to extend. In Zeise’s estimation, then, what the Steelers should do is allow Bell to play the season under the $12.12MM tag and, if he fares well, tag him again for roughly $14.5MM in 2018. The Steelers could then let Bell walk when he’s exiting his prime. (For more on Bell, check out Zach Links’ piece from earlier this week.)

Bengals Sign Rookie RB Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon is officially a member of the Bengals. The team announced that the running back has inked his four-year rookie deal. Joe Mixon (vertical)

[RELATED: Why The Bengals Are A Fit For TE Gary Barnidge]

From a talent perspective, Mixon was one of the best running backs available in this year’s class. However, his baggage dragged him further down the boards of several teams and completely off the board for some. Mixon, of course, was caught on video striking a woman while on campus at Oklahoma. Mixon and the woman reached a civil settlement one week before the draft, but that was not enough to quell the concerns of teams around the league. Ultimately, the Bengals took a chance on Mixon at No. 48 overall.

“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said. “We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”

Without the off-field concerns, Mixon would have been a mortal lock for the first round. In 2016, Mixon rushed for 1,274 yards and ten touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners, adding another 538 yards and five scores in the passing game.

Mixon is the ninth of the Bengals’ eleven draft picks to sign. Third round defensive end Jordan Willis and fifth round offensive lineman J.J. Dielman are the remaining stragglers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike Brown On Joe Mixon

The Bengals recently made Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the No. 48 overall pick of the 2017 draft, a move that predictably sparked a great deal of conversation and controversy. Mixon’s assault of a female Oklahoma student several years ago caused a number of teams to remove him from their draft boards completely — a recent report indicated that only four clubs said they would consider drafting Mixon — and any team that did select him knew it would have to contend with significant public backlash.

Joe Mixon (vertical)

Cincinnati, no stranger to taking a chance on players with character concerns, decided to take the plunge in the second round of the draft. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are on the Bengals’ roster, but neither back reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season, Hill will be a free agent next offseason, and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November. So Mixon, who was perhaps the most talented back in this year’s class, made sense from an on-field need and value perspective.

Nonetheless, the off-field concerns needed to be addressed, and Bengals owner and president Mike Brown wrote a letter to the team’s fanbase in an attempt to do that. Here are the highlights (courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer):

On the incident itself:

“Joe’s regrettable deed was that he struck a young woman, another student, shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, Oklahoma, three years ago. Joe and this young woman recently met in person, came to terms with the incident, and they agreed to resolve their differences so they could move forward with their lives.”

On Mixon’s response to the incident:

“Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions. He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.”

On why the team selected Mixon:

“[H]e is a rare football talent, and his conduct over the past three years leads us to believe he can help us win football games and also become a productive member of this community.”

On Mixon’s future with the club:

“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside. We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Notes: Mixon, Raiders, Dolphins

Some assorted draft notes from around the AFC…

  • Half the league didn’t have embattled running back Joe Mixon on their draft board, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Meanwhile, other evaluators believe he was the best overall running back if they were only evaluating on-field skills. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds that only four teams said they would consider drafting Mixon. We can assume that one of those four organizations was the Bengals, who selected the running back in the second round.
  • The Raiders selected UConn safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round, although Rapoport tweets that the organization was close to selecting the defensive back in the first.
  • The Dolphins ultimately selected defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick on Thursday night. However, if the Missouri product hadn’t been available, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero says (via Twitter) that the team would have selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • The Broncos were rather committed to selecting Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker. In fact, general manager John Elway revealed that he was willing to trade up if he needed to. “We made a lot of attempts to get up in (second round) to trade for Walker,” Elway told Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). “Things worked out.” Walker was selected by the Broncos with the 51st overall pick.
  • Good news out of Houston: Rapoport tweets that the Texans don’t believe running back D’Onta Foreman needs surgery on the stress fracture in his foot. The team found “no progressions in the injury at rechecks,” which apparently made them comfortable enough to select him in the third round.

Bengals Draft Joe Mixon

With the 48th pick in the draft, the Bengals have selected Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

Joe Mixon (vertical)

Players with character concerns are nothing new for the Bengals, and Mixon is perhaps the draft’s most controversial prospect in light of the video that surfaced of him assaulting a female three years ago. A number of teams reportedly removed Mixon from their respective draft boards, as they were unwilling to deal with the backlash of selecting such a infamous player. Mixon and the victim in the case reached a civil settlement earlier this month.

While Mixon has off-field concerns, he’s one of the best running back prospects on the field, and many observers felt Mixon would have been a surefire first-round pick if he came without baggage. In 2016, put 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners, adding another 538 yards and five scores in the passing game.

The Bengals already have two familiar backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, though neither reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last season. Plus, Hill will be a free agent next offseason and Bernard is coming off a serious injury, having torn his ACL in November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Peter King On Butler, Saints, Mixon, Giants

Someone familiar with the Saints‘ thinking believes they are leaning towards keeping their first three picks rather than using them to acquire Malcolm Butler from the Patriots, Peter King of The MMQB writes. The team remains interested in the cornerback, but they believe that there are a number of players ranked between No. 25 and 75 on their board that can contribute immediately. The thought of trading one or more picks for Butler in addition to giving him a high-priced deal is not as attractive as it once was for New Orleans. The Saints presently own five picks in the first three rounds: Nos. 11, 32, 42, 76, and 103.

Here’s more from King:

  • Joe Mixon has garnered the most interest from the Bengals, Vikings, Packers, and Jaguars, King hears. King personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals take the controversial running back with the No. 41 overall pick given the team’s past willingness to gamble on a checkered history.
  • King wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants move up from No. 23 or if the Texans move up from No. 25 to get a pick in the teens. The Giants are looking for a tackle and the Texans are in need of a quarterback. The Ravens (No. 16) and Titans (No. 18) “would be happy to move down,” King writes.
  • Many of the top players in this year’s draft come with serious medical concerns. One GM told King that he has never ‘been part of a draft with so many medical red flags.”

NFL Draft Rumors: Mixon, Raiders, Eagles

Is Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon the most talented player in this year’s draft? One nameless personnel executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he believes that to be the case. The other execs surveyed, naturally, went in different directions. Texas A&M star Myles Garrett got 11 votes, LSU safety Jamal Adams got two, and there was one vote cast for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Unlike the others, Mixon doesn’t necessarily seem likely to go in the first round.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

Falcons Notes: Mixon, Freeney, Coleman

The Falcons are not interested in drafting running back Joe Mixon, and have removed him from their draft board given his prior assault charge, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta becomes the third known to team to have ruled out Mixon, joining Miami and New England. Like the Dolphins and Patriots, though, the Falcons don’t necessarily need a player of Mixon’s caliber given the level of talent on their roster. In Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Atlanta already boasts one of the better backfield tandems in the league, and can easily make the decision to avoid the headache of adding Mixon.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • Although veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney is likely to continue his career in 2017, the Falcons won’t decide whether to offer him a new contract until after the draft, per Schultz. Freeney, 37, probably wouldn’t have been participated in Atlanta’s spring workout sessions, so the club doesn’t feel the need to hurry into an offer. Last season, Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. He’s PFR’s No. 1 free agent edge defender. At present, Atlanta’s defensive end depth chart includes Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Courtney Upshaw, Brooks Reed, and Jack Crawford, while the club could also select another pass rusher in the draft.
  • A long-term extension with Freeman is also on the back burner, reports Schultz, and the Falcons don’t expect to begin contract discussions until the start of training camp. Negotiations could also bleed into the regular season. Freeman, 25, is scheduled to earn $1.797MM in 2017, and was at one point reportedly looking for “elite” running back money. While Freeman and his agent have since walked back those comments, Freeman is surely still hunting for a hefty deal after combining for 2,100-plus rushing yards, 27 touchdowns (22 on the ground, five receiving) and 127 catches from 2015-16.
  • The Falcons could have interest in trading up from the No. 31 pick, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“To move up in the 20s, there will be opportunities there,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “There are some interesting candidates that will be around there in the early parts of the 20s.” Atlanta could target a number of positions of Day 1 of the draft, but edge rusher or guard seem to be the club’s clearest need areas. In PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, I sent UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley to the Falcons at the end of the first round.
  • In case you missed it, the Falcons plan to exercise left tackle Jake Matthews‘ 2018 fifth-year option. The former No. 6 overall pick had a decent showing last year, earning a 74.3 overall score on Pro Football Focus. That mark left Mathews ranked No. 37 among all tackles, putting him in the middle of the pack out of 78 qualified players. He’ll earn roughly $12.81MM in 2018, but that figure is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year.

Draft Notes: QBs, Foster, Ross, Cook, Mixon

Although the 2017 rookie quarterback pool has been heavily scrutinized this offseason, teams are warming up to select signal-callers as the draft nears. While this shouldn’t be unexpected, given the position’s scarcity at the sport’s highest level, Charlie Casserly of NFL.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hear two QBs could well be taken in the top 10. A GM told Casserly he expects two quarterbacks to be taken in the top nine picks, meaning the Bills — who have been linked to passers at 10 — could have to look elsewhere if they don’t trade up. Miller points to Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes as the players most likely to be those top-nine choices, while a 22-team survey from Casserly produced Trubisky or Deshaun Watson as the quarterbacks teams identify as this draft’s best.

Here’s more from this draft pool, with the three-day event less than six days away.

  • Reuben Foster has been linked as high as No. 2 overall to the 49ers, but since, the former Alabama linebacker has run into off-field trouble on multiple fronts. And Miller hears a Myles Jack-like fall could be in store for the talented ‘backer. Viewed as a top-five talent in 2016, Jack plummeted to the Jaguars at No. 36 last year because of a severe injury he suffered while at UCLA. Foster falling out of the first round based strictly on character issues would stand as a surprise. A failed drug test and his forced exit from the Combine indeed raise red flags, but Foster has been viewed as the top off-the-ball linebacker in this draft throughout the process. It would take a lot of linebacker-needy teams to pass on him for this freefall to commence. PFR’s Zach Links asked whether Foster was going to fall out of the top 10 earlier today; slinking out of the top 32 would be something else entirely.
  • Regarding other possible falling stocks, Miller hears John Ross and Dalvin Cook may fall out of the first round as well. The Florida State back has not seen much momentum since the Combine, with a low SPARQ score accompanying a past that includes some troublesome signs. Ross underwent surgery after the Combine to repair a torn labrum but did set the event’s modern record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash time. This isn’t the first time Miller’s warned about concerns around Ross potentially causing a slippage for the Washington-developed speedster.
  • Ross’ agent, Brad Cicala, attempted to address concerns that there’s more to Ross’ medical history. Ross underwent two surgeries to correct knee problems in early 2015, per Cicala, but did not undergo two ACL procedures. “Despite recent reports, John Ross III has never sustained 2 ACL injury’s (sic) nor has he had 2 ACL surgeries,” Cicala wrote (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Facebook link) “In January of 2015 he endured surgery on his right lateral meniscus and in April of 2015 he had surgery on his left ACL.” Cicala adds that Ross has been deemed “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from the labrum surgery, with the wideout expected to be ready by training camp.
  • Miller is hearing Mixon’s name connected to the second round. One team to meet with the runner has a need at running back but is connected to a higher-profile name. The Raiders met with the Oklahoma product who grew up in the Bay Area, and Reggie McKenzie was satisfied with the embattled running back’s answers. “We thought he was a really good kid,” McKenzie said Friday, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He came off really well. He explained each and every thing. The questions that we had, he had an explanation. He was upfront about everything.” Mark Davis is associated with having a “zero tolerance” policy on domestic violence, and the Raiders are currently negotiating with Marshawn Lynch. So, this would be an interesting fit, to say the least.
  • Former USC wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster said the Rams and Cowboys have shown the most interest in him, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Los Angeles-based wideout said he would like to play for the Chargers last month.

Joe Mixon Reaches Civil Settlement

Joe Mixon and the woman he punched nearly three years ago agreed to a civil settlement on Friday, Jake Trotter of ESPN.com reports. Terms of the settlement are not available.

The likely draft pick and Amelia Molitor, the victim in the infamous incident in 2014, settled on her accusation of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Trotter reports an Oklahoma judge threw out Molitor’s accusations of negligence and willful and wanton misconduct in her original suit in November of last year.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement, revealing they met privately.

I’m thankful Mia and I were able to talk privately,” Mixon said in the statement. “I was able to apologize to her one-to-one. The way I reacted that night, that’s not me. That’s not the way I was raised. I think she understands that.”

The punch, one that broke four bones in Molitor’s face, resulted in Mixon being suspended from Oklahoma for the 2014 season and has led to Mixon landing as the biggest character risk in this year’s draft. The running back accepted a plea deal after the incident but returned to the Sooners’ football team a year later and put himself in position to be a possible Day 2 draft pick. The incident being caught on tape has caused several teams to remove Mixon from their respective draft boards and has the talented ball-carrier’s stock in a murky place with the draft a week away.

I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently,” Molitor said in the statement. “I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did. I’m finished talking about what happened that night with Joe. It’s time to move on from that. I wish Joe the best of luck in his future.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.