When Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was suddenly absent from practice this week, there was an easy connection to make with his contract status. Especially when Bengals coach Zac Taylor wouldn’t specify why he was out.
Mixon, entering the final year of his rookie deal, wants an extension. That has hardly been a secret.
When Mixon was out of practice with what Taylor termed a “minor injury,” and that lingered for a few days, it became even more curious.
On Thursday, a report said Mixon has been dealing with migraines.
Joe Mixon reportedly out with migraines
NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero said Mixon has been out with migraines and the team is optimistic he’ll be back soon. Pelissero made sure to mention “contract talks ongoing” in his report.
Players come down with migraines, even ones who want a new deal during training camp. The timing leads to speculation.
Mixon is one of the NFL’s best backs. He was a controversial second-round draft pick after an incident at Oklahoma in which he punched a female student. He has not had any off-field incidents with Cincinnati and his production has been very good.
Still, there are obstacles to a new contract.
Bengals might be nervous about Mixon extension
Even in a normal year, the Bengals might balk at paying Mixon. The recent history of big extensions for running backs is worse than you think. Even though Mixon is still just 24, most running backs don’t have a long prime.
Then there are likely some worries about the salary cap. Revenue will be down in the NFL this season due to fans either not being allowed in the stadium or in a limited way. Nobody knows exactly how that will affect the salary cap. Still, the Bengals know how important Mixon is to their young offense.
Cynically, it seems like Mixon might be doing a “hold-in” and not practicing until a deal is reached. Perhaps it’s a coincidence and migraines are the only reason he isn’t on the field. We’ll see which headache lasts longer.
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