Joe Mixon’s future with Bengals could be decided by this key date

Like last year, the Cincinnati Bengals have a tough decision to make with running back Joe Mixon.

And there’s a notable due date this time.

After taking a pay cut to stay with the team last offseason, Mixon’s contract is once again worth scrutinizing because it comes with an $8.85 million cap hit.

March 17 is the date to know. That’s when a $3 million roster bonus for Mixon goes official. If the Bengals were to cut Mixon, they save $6.1 million and eat a $2.75 million cap charge, so that date is something to consider.

Moving on from Mixon is tricky, though. He’s coming off a season with 1,034 yards on a 4.0 average (take out 111 yards and a score in a meaningless Week 18 game, though) and he rarely fumbles.

But performance vs. pay-wise, the Bengals said last year they wanted to get more explosive, then didn’t. Joe Burrow said the same thing about the position at his end-of-year presser this year, too.

Mixon isn’t that, at least not compared to a rookie or free agent they could bring in to pair with Chase Brown. But there’s also an emotional aspect of this, with Mixon being a locker room leader and a remnant of the depressing rebuilding days.

For his part, Mixon has clapped back at people who think he’s on his way out the door. And he could be right, especially if the team approaches him about another contract rewriting (keep in mind there could always be an extension that lowers the immediate cap hit, potentially).

But that March 17 date is one to know. Free agency starts March 13, so if the team sees the market rates and/or finds a player they like, it could weigh heavily on their approach.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire