The Cincinnati Bengals made a rare exception this offseason in going out and spending in outside free agency, inking such players as Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander at cornerback, Vonn Bell at safety, and D.J. Reader at defensive tackle, looking to rebuild the defensive side of the ball with veteran talent.
Ordinarily, they are a team that tends to have plenty of cap space because they not only don’t sign outside free agents, they often let some of their own players go that they don’t have to. And they also struggle to develop talent that merits a second contract. So that is one of the reasons that they were able to work out a new deal yesterday with fourth-year running back Joe Mixon, which will pay him an average of $12 million per season in new money.
Since being drafted in the second round in 2017, Mixon has rushed for 2931 yards on 693 carries, scoring 17 times on the ground. He has also added another 870 yards on receptions (108 of them to be specific) with another four touchdowns.
On the day that top-five pick Leonard Fournette cleared waivers, Mixon agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract extension that ties himself to the Bengals through the 2024 season, giving Joe Burrow some stability in the backfield.
Only Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Derek Henry have rushed for more yards over the past three seasons than has Mixon, who over that time has averaged 4.2 yards per carry behind some pretty spotty offensive line combinations.
Cincinnati is hoping to improve that this year, however, including the debut of Jonah Williams, their 2019 first-round draft pick who missed the entirety of his rookie season because of an injury. He was penciled in as the left tackle of the future. They still expect that of him. Former Steelers lineman Fred Johnson may also factor into their refiguration of the line.
During recent practices, Mixon just so happened to be absent due to ‘migraines’, according to head coach Zac Taylor. I am suspicious that his migraines will have suddenly cleared up as he officially signs his new contract today, which will reportedly include a $10 million signing bonus.
The final year of the contract, with a $9.4 million base salary, is also reported as a club option, and each year will include $500,000 in playing time incentives and $200,000 in workout bonuses. In terms of positional scale, it puts him sixth behind Christian McCaffery, Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Henry.