Bengals reportedly anticipating a Joe Mixon holdout unless there's a long-term deal

Frank Schwab
·2 min read

Next week the Cincinnati Bengals are going to add what they hope is a new franchise quarterback, but he might not have one of the NFL’s best running backs to hand off to.

An interesting nugget in a Bengals draft preview piece by Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic said the “organization [is] prepared for a holdout if they can’t agree to a long-term deal” with running back Joe Mixon. That could change the draft plans of the Bengals, who are expected to pick LSU quarterback Joe Burrow first overall.

Assuming there have been discussions between Mixon and the team, news of Christian McCaffrey’s extension with the Carolina Panthers this week might have changed the asking price for Mixon.

Joe Mixon has become one of NFL’s better backs

This week, McCaffrey signed an extension worth $16 million per season, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

Mixon isn’t on McCaffrey’s level. He isn’t going to get $16 million per season. But he is a good all-around threat, coming off back-to-back seasons with 1,100 rushing yards on a terrible offense, and he’s just 23. Mixon fell in the draft due to an incident at Oklahoma in which he was shown on video punching a female student. The Bengals took a chance on him in the second round, and he has played well.

Now Mixon wants a big pay day. Or he reportedly could pull a Melvin Gordon and hold out before the final year of his contract.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) is entering the final year of his rookie deal. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) is entering the final year of his rookie deal. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

How will Bengals handle potential Mixon holdout?

The McCaffrey deal brought up the old debate about whether it’s smart for NFL teams to pay running backs a big second deal. The recent history is not good. Presumably, the Bengals know that.

Perhaps Cincinnati, which is known for not wanting to pay huge contracts to free agents, handles a potential Mixon holdout like the Los Angeles Chargers dealt with Gordon, which was to take a hard stance and not pay him. It wouldn’t help Burrow or an offense that is trying to rebound from a terrible season, but giving Mixon a large deal could turn out poorly.

If Mixon holds out, we’ll see how much leverage he has with the Bengals. Cincinnati wants to start a new era the right way, and not with one of their best playmakers sitting out.

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