The Cincinnati Bengals are facing a tough decision regarding their star running back Joe Mixon. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team is expected to ask Mixon to take a pay cut in order to free up some cap space for the upcoming season.
Mixon, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Bengals in 2020, is set to earn $8 million in base salary and $9.4 million in cap hit in 2021.
However, he only played six games last year due to a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve. He finished the season with 428 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 119 carries.
The Bengals are reportedly hoping that Mixon will agree to restructure his deal and lower his salary for this year, similar to what other players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have done in the past.
The team is projected to have around $37 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, but they also have several needs to address in free agency and the draft.
The Bengals are looking to improve their offensive line, which was one of the worst in the league last year and allowed rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to suffer a season-ending knee injury.
They also need to bolster their defense, which ranked 26th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed per game.
Mixon, who turns 25 in July, is one of the most talented and versatile running backs in the NFL when healthy. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in his four-year career and has also shown his ability as a receiver out of the backfield.
He has scored 25 total touchdowns in 50 games.
However, running backs are often considered expendable and replaceable in today’s NFL, especially with the abundance of talent available in the draft and free agency.
The Bengals could potentially find a cheaper and younger option to pair with Burrow and their dynamic receiving duo of Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
It remains to be seen how Mixon will react to the Bengals’ request and whether he will be willing to take less money for the sake of the team. He has previously expressed his loyalty and gratitude to the franchise that drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft despite his off-field issues in college.
The Bengals have until March 17 to finalize their roster moves before the new league year begins. They will also have to decide on the futures of other key players like wide receiver A.J.
Green, defensive end Carl Lawson, cornerback William Jackson III and kicker Randy Bullock.
Final Thoughts: Bengals May Request Joe Mixon to Take a Pay Cut
The news of the Cincinnati Bengals potentially asking running back Joe Mixon to take a pay cut is not surprising given the current economic climate in the NFL.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting league revenues, many teams are facing salary cap constraints, forcing them to make difficult decisions with their high-priced players.
Mixon’s situation is particularly challenging for the Bengals as he is coming off a season-ending foot injury that limited him to just six games in 2020.
While he has shown flashes of brilliance in his four-year career, he has also been inconsistent and has had issues with durability. With a cap hit of $9.4 million in 2021, the Bengals may feel that Mixon’s salary is too high for his current production and injury history.
On the other hand, Mixon is still a young and talented player who can make a significant impact on the Bengals’ offense when healthy. He has shown his ability as a runner, receiver, and blocker, making him a valuable asset for the team.
His loyalty and commitment to the franchise have also been evident throughout his tenure, which may make it difficult for the Bengals to approach him with a pay cut request.
If the Bengals do ask Mixon to take a pay cut, it will be interesting to see how he responds. Mixon may feel that he deserves to be paid based on his potential and past performance, and may be unwilling to take less money.
On the other hand, he may also recognize that the Bengals need to make moves to improve their team, and may be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Regardless of the outcome, the Bengals will have to make some tough decisions in the upcoming offseason, as they have several key players set to become free agents.
They will need to weigh their options carefully and prioritize their needs to build a competitive team around their young quarterback Joe Burrow.
Overall, the potential request for Joe Mixon to take a pay cut is a reminder of the challenges that teams face in managing their salary cap and building a successful team.
It is a delicate balancing act that requires careful planning and execution, and the Bengals will need to navigate it carefully to ensure their long-term success.