Zac Taylor Says Joe Mixon’s Future Is With Bengals After Reports Suggesting Otherwise

There were reports heading into the 2023 NFL Draft that the Cincinnati Bengals were potentially looking to move on from Joe Mixon, their veteran starting running back. Coming off a down season, and following an aggravated menacing charge, it was suggested that the team intended to approach him about taking a pay cut—or else cutting him altogether.

It was thought that their draft class might reveal their intentions, and although they did draft a running back, it was not until the fifth round with the addition of Chase Brown out of Illinois. They don’t currently have any other running back on the roster who could be considered a viable candidate to take on a full-time role.

So it doesn’t appear as though Mixon is likely to go anywhere—and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor seemed to make that clear following the draft as well. Asked about his starting running back, he told reporters, “His future is here with the team”, via Ben Baby of ESPN. “I like Joe Mixon”.

A second-round draft pick in 2017, Mixon entered the starting lineup full-time in 2018, posting one of his best seasons with 1,168 rushing yards on nearly five yards per carry with eight touchdowns. He has wavered in efficiency since then, never topping 4.1 yards per carry, but he does have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and one Pro Bowl under his belt.

It seemed as though he had revitalized himself in 2021 after coming off an injury-plagued year, rushing for 1,205 yards with 13 touchdowns, marking the year of his only Pro Bowl to date, but injuries played a role in another regression last season.

In addition to Mixon and now Brown, the Bengals’ roster includes Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams at running back, neither of whom has much playing experience in his career despite having multiple seasons under their belts.

Cincinnati has been trying to revitalize its offensive line over the past two seasons. Though they did not come out of this draft class with any help in that department, they made their big move in free agency, signing Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to a four-year, $64 million deal.

He pairs with last year’s free agents, Ted Karras at center, Alex Cappa at right guard, and La’el Collins at right tackle, though Collins is recovering from a triple-ligament tear in his knee from December. With the Brown acquisition, former starting left tackle Jonah Williams is a candidate to slide over to the right side. Cordell Volson would project to remain at left guard after winning the job as a rookie last year.

Getting that offensive line in order, and keeping it healthy, would go a long way toward alleviating some of the Bengals’ concerns with the ground game. Though with a passing arsenal such as theirs, it probably doesn’t produce too many sleepless nights.

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