Joe Mixon might be prepared to break the kumbaya attitude that has permeated the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason. Adam Wells of Bleacher Report wrote an article late last week that said the running back wants to get a long-term deal with his team. The report further stated that Mixon could be prepared to hold out, should he not get a multi-year contract.
Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100 yard seasons and is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He'll be coming into 2020 as the 45th highest-paid running back in the NFL, putting him behind part-time players like T.J. Yeldon and Kerryon Johnson, according to OverTheCap.
Mixon spent his rookie campaign splitting carries with Geovani Bernard and still managed to rush for over 600 yards. In 2018, he took over the starting job full-time and ran for a career-high 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Last season, his productivity took a bit of a dip, thanks in part to an offensive line ranked as one of the worst in the NFL and a situation at quarterback that saw Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley rotate through.
Despite being the focal point of the offense for a 1-15 team, Mixon still rushed for 1,137 yards and five TDs. He caught 35 passes for another 200 yards as well.
As Wells pointed out, it's hard to know just how successful a holdout would be, as the NFL has started devaluing the running back position. There are still several high-profile running backs who are earning big contracts, but several of those were either released, traded, or are on the trading block, as their respective teams work at shedding payroll.Todd Gurley currently ranks as the biggest hit to the salary cap in the league. He's costing the Rams more than $17 million in 2020 and was cut loose earlier this offseason. Another high dollar back is David Johnson, who was traded from the Arizona Cardinals to the Houston Texans as part of the deal that brought Deandre Hopkins to the desert.
Jacksonville Jaguars' running back Leonard Fournette is fifth in the league when it comes to salary cap hits, with over $8 million. He's officially on the trading block after asking out of town.
The rumors that Mixon is considering holding out is the first bit of strife the team has had to deal with this offseason. Entering this week with the first overall pick and several top defensive free agent signings, there's been quite a bit of positivity surrounding the Bengals. That includes comments from Dalton that he is willing to return to Cincy this year as the backup quarterback if that's what's asked of him.