Joe Mixon

Bengals’ Joe Mixon Found Not Guilty On Aggravated Menacing Charge

The Bengals retained Joe Mixon this offseason, despite a run of uncertainty regarding his status with the team. The seventh-year running back also received some good news on the legal front Thursday.

A judge found Mixon not guilty on the misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge that stemmed from a January road rage incident, WKRC12’s Christian Houser tweets. Mixon, 27, had pleaded not guilty to the charge in April. This led to a four-day trial that wrapped Thursday.

The Bengals running back was accused of pointed a gun at a woman during a traffic encounter, which occurred before the team was to gather at Paycor Stadium ahead of its departure for a divisional-round game in Buffalo. While police initially dropped the charge in February, it was refiled upon further review. A conviction could have resulted in 180 days in jail, but Thursday morning’s decision will close this chapter for the veteran back.

Mixon, of course, entered the NFL with ugly baggage. A video of him punching a woman in the face led to a season-long suspension at Oklahoma, and the Bengals faced criticism for drafting him in the 2017 second round. Mixon was not suspended for that incident, since it occurred before he entered the league, and has not been suspended since he was drafted. While the NFL’s personal conduct policy does not mandate a conviction for a suspension, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets Mixon should not be expected to face a league penalty in connection with the January incident.

After Samaje Perine turned down a Bengals offer to sign with the Broncos, the defending AFC North champions still circled back to a Mixon pay cut. Months of rumors on that front led to Mixon accepting a steep reduction. Formerly tied to a $12MM-per-year contract, Mixon agreed to new terms that reduced his through-2024 deal to a two-year, $11.5MM pact.

Joe Mixon Addresses Bengals Pay Cut

Joining Aaron Jones in accepting a pay cut off a $12MM-per-year contract this offseason, Joe Mixon accepted a steeper pay slash compared to the Packers running back. The seventh-year Bengals back is now tied to what can be labeled a two-year, $11.5MM deal — one that gives the Bengals flexibility to move on after the 2023 season.

Mixon entered the offseason as one of eight backs tied to eight-figure-per-year extensions. While he remains under contract nearly three years after agreeing to a four-year, $48MM Cincinnati extension, the former second-round pick is now making a fraction of the AAV he signed up for in 2020. With Samaje Perine gone, however, Mixon is the clear-cut Bengals starter. And it is not out of the question his workload increases in 2023.

I see the bigger picture. I see the task at hand and what we’re trying to build and in order to keep other players here and pieces here, sometimes you have to sacrifice,” Mixon said, via’s Geoff Hobson. “I felt like this year was the year to sacrifice on the Super Bowl team we can potentially be.

That was my stance on it. We agreed on a number with great compensation this year with the incentives. Off my last deal, I feel like they allowed me to work to be able to make that money back. That’s cool. I’ll go work for it.”

Mixon, 27, took a $4.39MM pay cut for this season and trimmed $4.67MM off his 2024 salary. Although the Packers slashed Jones’ 2023 salary by $5MM, he received $8.52MM in guarantees in exchange for the cut. While Mixon is at $11.5MM over the next two years, Jones is at $23MM. It will cost the Packers $12.4MM in dead money — in a non-post-June 1 scenario — to release Jones in 2024; Mixon can be cut for just $2.75MM in dead money next year.

Had Mixon refused the pay cut, he would have joined the likes of Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt as proven veterans unsigned in a year when the running back market crashed. This undoubtedly influenced the Bengals’ terms when they approached Mixon with the long-rumored cut. But Mixon will be Cincinnati’s starting back for a seventh year. With 71 starts to his credit, Mixon will move into third place on the Bengals’ all-time list — behind James Brooks and Corey Dillon — early this season. He sits just more than 1,000 rushing yards shy of Brooks for second in team history in rushing.

Mixon is coming off a down season and has totaled 1,545 career touches. The Oklahoma product will have a chance to prove last year (1,255 scrimmage yards, down from 1,519 during the Bengals’ Super Bowl LVI season) did not mark a clear sign of a decline while operating as the lead back on what again looks like one of the NFL’s best teams.

Details On Joe Mixon’s Reworked Deal With Bengals

JULY 23: offers more clarity on Mixon’s pay cut. Essentially, the reworked deal can be viewed as a two-year, $11.5MM contract with $4.13MM guaranteed. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required) classifies the guaranteed money as a signing bonus, while OTC says it’s a roster bonus.

In either case, Mixon — who will also earn a veteran minimum $1.08MM base salary in 2023 — secured his place on the roster for the upcoming season. Dehner also confirms the original report that the former Pro Bowler can earn up to $2MM in incentives this year. However, while Dehner acknowledges that the restructure techincally allows the Bengals to retain Mixon in 2024, he does not believe that will happen unless Mixon turns in a “monster 2023.”

If Cincinnati were to cut Mixon next offseason, it would incur just $2.8MM in dead money.

JULY 15: Joe Mixon is staying in Cincinnati, but he had to take a significant pay cut to do so. We heard yesterday that the running back had restructured his contract to stick in Cincinnati, and we’re now getting details on what Mixon actually gave up.

[RELATED: Bengals, Joe Mixon Finalizing Restructure]

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), Mixon took a $4.39MM pay cut for the 2023 campaign and a $4.67M pay cut for the 2024 campaign. The running back’s base salary is now down to $5.51MM, and he can earn another $2MM via incentives in 2023. As Rapoport notes, this restructuring will also increase the chances of Mixon sticking around for the 2024 season.

Mixon was still playing on a four-year, $48MM deal he signed with the Bengals in 2020. The Bengals were fine carrying Mixon and his $11.42MM cap hit during the 2022 season, especially coming off a 2021 campaign where he had career-highs in rushes (292), rushing yards (1,205), and rushing touchdowns (13). However, with the organization facing pricey extensions for foundational pieces like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, the front office had to get creative.

As a result, Mixon was already a common candidate to earn a pay cut this offseason. The veteran running back was set to earn $10.1MM in 2023 and was attached to a $12.79MM cap hit. The Bengals stood to save over $7MM by releasing him, and that number would have been bumped to $10MM if they did so as a post-June 1 cut. Instead, both sides decided to stick together and agree to a reworked deal.

Considering the plight of the current crop of free agent RBs (including Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott) and extension-seeking RBs (including Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs), it made sense for Mixon to secure his roster spot for (likely) the next two seasons. The 26-year-old didn’t have his strongest campaign in 2022, finishing with only 814 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

It also made sense for the Bengals to renegotiate a restructured deal vs. outright releasing the veteran. The team lost Samaje Perine this offseason, leaving little experienced depth behind Mixon. Behind the starter, the Bengals are eyeing depth pieces like fifth-round rookie Chase Brown, special teamer Trayveon Williams, and former sixth-round pick Chris Evans.

Bengals, Joe Mixon Finalizing Restructure

Possibly in danger of becoming a cap space casualty, running back Joe Mixon agreed to restructure his contract in order to remain with the Bengals, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The veteran rusher will return for his seventh season in Cincinnati in 2023.

Mixon’s uncertain future with the team has been a topic of discussion over the last few months. If the team had decided to cut the former Pro Bowler, they stood to save over $7MM by releasing him and over $10MM if they did so as a post-June 1 cut. The Bengals had already seen the departures of running back Samaje Perine, tight end Hayden Hurst, and safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III, but with a big money addition like offensive tackle Orlando Brown and a new contract for linebacker Germaine Pratt, it seemed like Cincinnati might need to start nickeling and diming where it could. This point seems even more prudent when considering the young star talent like quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who both will need hefty new contracts in the near future.

It became public knowledge that the Bengals would pursue a pay cut for Mixon months ago. In 2020, they had signed the tailback to a four-year, $48MM contract that made him a top-five paid running back in the league at the time. After Mixon rewarded the Bengals’ faith in him with a career-year that saw Mixon reach career-highs in rushes (292), rushing yards (1,205), and rushing touchdowns (13), the Bengals seemed content carrying Mixon into 2022 despite an $11.42MM cap hit. A $12.76MM cap hit in 2023 after missing three games and only amassing 814 rushing yards last year was going to be a tougher pill to swallow. A misdemeanor charge in April didn’t help things.

Still, head coach Zac Taylor vouched for the 26-year-old, establishing that Mixon’s future was “with the team,” and the front office continued to try to work towards an agreeable number on a pay reduction. As time went on, it began to seem that the only route that led to Mixon retaining his roster spot was a pay cut. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic laid out that “Mixon was always going to either take a paycut (sic) or decide to take a walk.” In the end, the franchise’s first ever successful restructured contract, according to Dehner, resulted in Mixon staying put.

The deal is not only beneficial for Mixon, who gets to remain in the only NFL home he’s ever known. The Bengals also get some security at the running back position. Even with Mixon still in the fold, Cincinnati was looking into the addition of experienced rushers to supplement the group behind Mixon. Returning backups Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans combined for 30 rushing yards last season, and rookie fifth-round pick Chase Brown is the only other back expected to make the 53-man roster. The lack of experienced depth behind Mixon is troubling, but if Mixon were to have left, it would’ve left Cincinnati in a desperate position.

Instead, Mixon returns to a very clear role as RB1. The team may still add another veteran running back for depth down the line, as it’s hard to see Mixon in a three-down role in 2023, but the Bengals secured what is likely the most important piece in their rushing game in a way that benefits both parties. Mixon takes less money than he was originally due but avoids what has been a treacherous running back free agency market in the process.

Bengals Eyeing RB Addition?

The uncertain status of Joe Mixon clouds the Bengals’ future at the running back position, but the top of the depth chart is not the only place where questions remain. Regardless of what happens with Mixon, a depth addition would not come as a surprise.

A pay cut has been floated as a potential solution for Mixon to remain in place as the focal point of Cincinnati’s backfield, but few developments on that front have emerged recently. Team and player are hoping to have the situation resolved soon, with the Bengals having a number of other priorities to deal with in the summer, including extensions for the likes of Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins and Logan Wilson.

The loss of Mixon in particular would create a hole at the RB spot, however, and require a late addition aimed at filling it. As things stand, the free agent departure of Samaje Perine has led to questions about which back would occupy his pass-catching role. The incumbent options – veteran Trayveon Williams, 2021 sixth-rounder Chris Evans and fifth-round rookie Chase Brown – offer little-to-no experience in that regard at the NFL level.

As a result, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic predicts that another running back will be added during the summer to provide a known commodity on third downs (subscription required). Williams and Evans have combined to make just 26 receptions in their careers, while the majority of Brown’s production at Illinois came on the ground rather than through the air. Giving Mixon (if retained) a three-down role for 2023 is unlikely, Dehner notes, meaning the Bengals could be players on the open market.

Deep into what has been an underwhelming offseason at the running back spot, several options are available as short-term options while the team evaluates its younger players at the position. Evans, for instance, is in danger of losing his roster spot if training camp does not produce an impressive performance, per Dehner. High-profile names like Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott are still unsigned, but other veterans such as Kareem Hunt and J.D. McKissic would be better-suited if a strictly pass-catching role is the one being targeted.

The Bengals currently have just under $15MM in cap space, but that figure will be subject to change in the coming weeks, especially if Mixon is released (a move which would yield over $10MM in cap savings). Plenty will depend on the Pro Bowler’s fate, of course, but the team will be one to watch on the summer RB market as they look to replace Perine’s notable backup production.

Bengals, Joe Mixon Aiming For Near-Future Resolution On Contract

On the radar for several weeks, the Joe Mixon pay-cut situation still lingers for the Bengals. The seventh-year veteran went through Cincinnati’s minicamp in his usual starting role, but he is still not a lock to be on the team when it begins padded practices in August.

While vested veterans’ salaries do not become guaranteed until the Tuesday before Week 1, the Bengals and Mixon want this situation resolved “sooner rather than later,” Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Mixon, 27 in July, is tied to a $9.4MM base salary this year; the Bengals have long aimed to reduce that.

This probably is not going over well with Mixon, but his status has been an uncertainty since before the running back position began sustaining steady body blows. Bengals executive VP Duke Tobin said back at the Combine that Mixon’s status on the 2023 roster would be determined, and word of a pay-cut request emerged in mid-April.

As we wrap up June, Mixon remains tied to the four-year, $48MM contract he signed just before the 2020 season. The Bengals may be waiting to hammer out their Joe Burrow extension before addressing the Mixon matter, but no updates have come out on the quarterback’s negotiations in some time. With Burrow’s talks partially tied to how the Chargers proceed with Justin Herbert, the team may need to reach a Mixon agreement before Burrow signs.

This year has brought grim updates for the running back position. The Cowboys and Vikings shed two of the position’s top four deals from their respective payrolls, releasing Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. Although Aaron Jones‘ restructure came with more 2023 security, the Packers back agreed to a $5MM pay cut. The Chargers refused to give Austin Ekeler, the NFL’s touchdown leader in each of the past two seasons, a raise; a minor incentive package became the solution instead. Miles Sanders‘ $6.35MM-per-year contract led the way for a deep free agency class this year. None of the three franchise-tagged backs — Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard — have extensions in place. Sanders said this week that “it sucks to be a running back right now.”

The developments of the past few months may point to the Bengals asking for a significant Mixon reduction — perhaps more than the Packers $5MM Jones trim. With the likes of Elliott, Cook, Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt unsigned, the Bengals still have outside options. But the team is unlikely to consider those UFAs until they drop their asking prices, Dehner adds. This creates an interesting scenario for the AFC power.

The Vikings were rumored to be seeking a Cook cut, but they are not believed to have offered a specific number before releasing their 2017 RB draftee. Coming off a down year, Mixon is seemingly short on options. But the Bengals did lose Samaje Perine to the Broncos in free agency. The Bengals are believed to have offered their veteran backup a deal similar to the two-year, $7.5MM terms the Broncos proposed. Cincinnati used a fifth-round pick on Illinois’ Chase Brown and has fifth-year player Trayveon Williams and third-year back Chris Evans rostered as well. None of the team’s other options profiles as a starter. Perine’s exit provides apparent Mixon leverage, but the cadre of accomplished free agents would stand to undercut it.

Mixon did earn a Pro Bowl nod after totaling 1,519 scrimmage yards and 16 touchdowns — both career-high marks — in 2021, helping the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI. This extension, like those given to Cook and Jones, has benefited the team. But the state of the market — and the contract statuses of Burrow, Tee Higgins and Logan Wilson — prompted the Bengals to make this play. Mixon’s response will either keep the Bengals’ stacked skill-position corps intact or add another big name to the free agent mix.

Bengals Still Eyeing Joe Mixon Pay Cut

Shortly after the draft, fifth-year Bengals HC Zac Taylor indicated Joe Mixon‘s future is “here with the team.” The Bengals have employed Mixon as their starting back since his 2017 rookie season, and Samaje Perine declined their offer before signing with the Broncos.

But the prospect of a Mixon pay cut surfaced before Taylor’s comments. Despite the coach’s endorsement, the team is still planning on a Mixon pay reduction, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

[RELATED: Mixon Facing Misdemeanor Charge]

Although Mixon and Dalvin Cook were each part of a deep 2017 running back class, the former is a year younger. Mixon will turn 27 in July. But the Bengals are following the Vikings and Packers leads in aiming to adjust their seventh-year starter’s extension. Mixon and Cook signed their respective re-ups just before the 2020 season, with the Packers matching the Bengals’ Mixon AAV for Aaron Jones ($12MM). Cook’s is no longer an active contract, while Jones accepted a trim in exchange for more 2023 guarantees. Mixon’s deal calls for a $9.4MM 2023 base salary and a $12.8MM cap hit.

The Bengals remain ready to give Mixon, whose $12MM-per-year deal runs through 2024, a late-offseason ultimatum. Mixon refusing the reduction will likely lead to a release and the team searching for outside help, Dehner adds.

While this is certainly not an optimal time for Mixon to be forced into a salary trim, his 2023 status has been a talking point since the Combine. The Bengals, however, have the most significant contract in franchise history to hammer out before clarity emerges. Joe Burrow and the team have been in talks on what will almost certainly be a record-setting extension since late March. Burrow’s re-up will change Cincinnati’s blueprint, and it may well affect how the team navigates its receiver situation. And Mixon’s future will be impacted by Burrow’s deal.

But the Bengals went through their offseason program with Mixon looking again like a central figure in their offense, per Dehner. The former second-round pick has started 71 games and ripped off three 1,000-yard seasons. Last year was not one of them, with Mixon totaling just 814 rushing yards and missing three games. Mixon’s rushing yards-per-game number dropped from 75.3 in 2021 to 58.1 last season. That said, the Oklahoma alum did add a career-best 441 receiving yards. Mixon has logged 1,545 career touches. Since 2017, only Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara have topped that. His age aside, Mixon is on the downside of his career.

Mixon may reluctantly agree to the Bengals’ terms, seeing as this marks the best opportunity to remain a full-time back — especially with Perine out of the mix. While he could also hold the line and see if a Bengals team aiming to dethrone the Chiefs is keen on losing a proven upper-echelon back, the Bengals would have free agency options as well. Four-year Browns back Kareem Hunt still available. Cook also is taking his time, waiting for a competitive offer on a contending team. Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson are also available. As for in-house options, the Bengals drafted Illinois’ Chase Brown in the fifth round. He joins fifth-year back Trayveon Williams and 2021 sixth-rounder Chris Evans on Cincy’s depth chart.

The batch of accomplished backs on the market also will probably factor into the Bengals’ Mixon price point. So will the 2023 developments at the position. No back secured more than $6.5MM per year this offseason; the Cowboys and Vikings moved on from their pricey starters; Austin Ekeler was forced to accept a low-level Chargers incentive package after requesting a trade; the Giants have pulled Saquon Barkley offers off the table. While it will be interesting to see how this Mixon saga ends, it seems a near certainty his contract will be adjusted before Week 1.

Bengals HC Zac Taylor On RB Joe Mixon: “His Future Is Here With The Team”

For the past several months, there have been rumblings that Joe Mixon‘s time with the Bengals could soon be up. However, in his post-draft presser yesterday, head coach Zac Taylor indicated that the seventh-year running back would remain in Cincinnati in 2023.

“[Mixon’s] future is here with the team,” Taylor told reporters, including Ben Baby of “I like Joe Mixon.”

Those comments are certainly more definitive than those made by VP of player personnel Duke Tobin and executive VP Katie Blackburn earlier this offseason. When asked whether the club would retain Mixon, Tobin said, “I don’t know,” and Blackburn was similarly noncommittal. Several weeks ago, a report from Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic suggested that Mixon will ultimately be asked to take a pay cut.

A pay cut may be the best outcome for both sides, as the Bengals would retain a 2021 Pro Bowler while reducing his $12.8MM cap number, and Mixon would avoid becoming a late addition to a free agent market that has proven quite unfriendly to running backs. Plus, it’s not as though he would be hitting the market with a great deal of momentum; he posted a subpar 3.9 YPC average in 2022 and is presently facing a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing.

If player and team do not discuss or come to terms on a salary reduction, the Bengals could release Mixon with a post-June 1 designation and shave over $10MM off their 2023 ledger. However, that would put a great deal of pressure on Trayveon Williams (47 career carries), Chris Evans (17 career carries), and fifth-round rookie Chase Brown.

If Cincy had been able to re-sign Samaje Perine, perhaps the club would have been more inclined to move on from Mixon and deploy a Perine/Brown tandem at the top of the RB depth chart. Or, if a blue-chip prospect like Bijan Robinson had fallen to them in this year’s draft, the Bengals might have been comfortable with such a player taking over RB1 duties right away. As it stands, however, it would seem that a team with Super Bowl aspirations would not immediately hand the running back reins to Brown, no matter how high his upside might be. So Taylor’s comments with respect to Mixon, who has joined the team for voluntary workouts, make sense.

For his part, Brown — a Doak Walker Award finalist who rushed for 1,643 yards and posted 13 total TDs in his final season with Illinois — is excited to work with Mixon.

“They have a great running back there right now, Joe Mixon, who I grew up watching and watched a lot through college,” Brown said. “So I’m excited to come in, learn from him, learn from the coaching staff and produce on Sundays.”

Joe Mixon Facing Misdemeanor Charge

APRIL 19: The Bengals running back pleaded not guilty to the charge Wednesday in Hamilton County Municipal Court, according to the Associated Press. A judge ordered Mixon have no contact with the woman.

APRIL 7: Joe Mixon will end up facing a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing. After the charge was dropped in February, Sharon Coolidge and Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer report Mixon will be recharged in connection with a January road-rage incident.

The Bengals running back allegedly pointed a gun at a woman during a traffic encounter, which occurred before the team was to gather at Paycor Stadium before departing for its divisional-round game in Buffalo. Mixon must appear in court April 19.

This decision was reached following the discovery of new evidence during the investigative process,” a statement from Cincinnati police said, via the Enquirer. The Bengals released a statement indicating they are aware of the charge, Conway tweets.

Mixon, 26, allegedly pointed a gun at a woman at 12:49pm on Jan. 21 in downtown Cincinnati. While police initially dropped the charge in February, the door remained open to it being refiled upon further review. The woman who submitted the complaint indicated she will cooperate with authorities, Coolidge and Conway add.

The Bengals took some heat back in 2017 when they selected Mixon, who had been suspended from Oklahoma’s team for punching a woman in the face. A woman shoved and slapped Mixon during a July 2014 dispute at a restaurant; Mixon’s punch broke four bones in the woman’s face. The Sooners suspended Mixon for the 2014 season, but he returned and emerged on the draft radar after two productive seasons. The Bengals took Mixon in the second round; he has been the team’s starting running back for most of his career.

Mixon agreed to a deferred sentence in connection with the assault, undergoing counseling and performing community service. As a result, no conviction appears on his record. Since the incident occurred before Mixon entered the NFL, he was not suspended. Mixon could be suspended for the January incident, however, regardless of the case’s outcome.

The Bengals, who gave Mixon a $12MM-per-year extension in 2020, have not committed to keeping him around for a seventh season. The team made an offer to retain Samaje Perine, but Mixon’s longtime backup opted to sign with the Broncos. But Cincinnati can save $10MM by designating Mixon as a post-June 1 cut. The Pro Bowler is due a $9.4MM base salary in 2023. Mixon’s contract runs through the 2024 season.

Bengals Expected To Ask Joe Mixon To Take Pay Cut

The Bengals figure to be on the radar for a notable running back investment in this year’s draft. Cincinnati’s longest-tenured starting back since Corey Dillon has long been on shaky ground to return for a seventh season.

It appears Joe Mixon will soon face a decision: take a pay cut or be cut. The Bengals are expected to ask the six-year starter to accept a pay reduction soon, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Signed through 2024, Mixon is attached to base salaries of $9.4MM (2023) and $9.7MM (’24). Bengals executive VP Katie Blackburn stopped well short of guaranteeing Mixon would be back when asked in March.

Mixon sits in a similar situation to Dalvin Cook, whom the Vikings are not guaranteed to keep. Both players signed extensions just before the 2020 season, with Cook’s deal ($12.6MM per year) coming in just north of Mixon’s ($12MM AAV). While Cook signed a five-year Vikes re-up, Mixon inked a four-year deal to be the Bengals’ long-term back. Cook is coming off a better year than Mixon, who averaged 3.9 yards per carry and finished with 814 on the ground in 14 games. Pro Football Focus ranked Mixon 57th out of 62 qualified backs in elusiveness last season.

This year’s running back market showed the grim reality Cook and Mixon could soon face. Being released at this juncture of the offseason generally leads to a pay reduction on the market, as teams spend much of their offseason funds early in free agency. Mixon and Cook being running backs stands to place a low cap on their value, especially in the event they become midyear free agents.

No back who signed a free agent contract in March cracked the top 10 in earnings at the position. Even as the cap rises, backs’ replaceability has led to the position’s top salary (Christian McCaffrey‘s $16MM-per-year deal) going unchanged over the past three years. McCaffrey signed his Panthers extension in April 2020.

Developments on this year’s market could lead to Cincinnati asking Mixon to take a substantial pay cut, as the former second-round pick has also run into another off-field issue. Mixon, 26, is facing a misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge stemming from a traffic incident ahead of the Bengals’ trip to Buffalo in January. The Bengals took a chance on the Oklahoma alum’s upside, drafting him despite the Sooners having once suspended him for breaking four bones in a woman’s face during a 2014 assault at a restaurant. More off-field trouble will not help Mixon’s cause, as a suspension could be in the cards for the veteran.

Mixon is one year removed from his best season, when he helped the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI by amassing career-high totals in scrimmage yards (1,509) and touchdowns (16). The Bengals also lost multiyear backup Samaje Perine in free agency. Cincinnati offered Perine a similar deal to the one he signed in Denver (two years, $7.5MM), but Mixon’s former Oklahoma teammate opted for a potentially bigger role — on a team with Javonte Williams rehabbing an ACL tear — rather than return. Perine’s defection complicates the Bengals’ backfield situation, though the team can augment it by drafting a running back early. The Bengals have taken second-round backs three times since 2013 (Mixon, Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard); Dillon was also a second-rounder back in 1997.

Should the Bengals designate Mixon as a post-June 1 cut, it would save them $10.1MM. For a team planning extensions, that is an appealing number. The Bengals have Joe Burrow and linebacker Logan Wilson on their extension radar, and the team shut down Tee Higgins trade talk ahead of his contract year. Higgins is interested in a Bengals extension, but Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase‘s statuses complicate his long-term Cincy stay.

On that front, neither Higgins nor Wilson reported for the start of the Bengals’ offseason program Monday. They joined disgruntled tackle Jonah Williams in not showing for the start of voluntary workouts, per Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who adds Wilson is seeking an extension. Following the Bengals’ signing of Orlando Brown Jr. — a deal contingent upon the ex-Ravens and Chiefs blocker playing left tackle — Williams requested a trade. Modest interest has emerged; the Bengals will aim to keep the former first-round pick, who joins Higgins and Wilson in heading into a contract year. It is not uncommon for higher-profile players to skip part or all of offseason workouts, but the Bengals’ contract situation will obviously be one to monitor — especially now that Jalen Hurts raised the QB salary ceiling earlier today.