Throughout the offseason, Joe Mixon has been heavily rumored to be a cap casualty for the Cincinnati Bengals. But after selecting Illinois RB Chase Brown in the fifth round, is the Bengals’ new running back still on the outside looking in? Here are the latest rumors involving Mixon and his status in Cincinnati.
Joe Mixon Cap Casualty Rumors
Mixon has been the subject of different rumors throughout the offseason, most notably as a potential cap casualty. Mixon costs $12.6 million against the cap this season, the fifth-highest cap hit for a running back in 2023.
During the NFL Combine, reporters asked Duke Tobin, Bengals’ Director of Player Personnel, about Mixon and his future with the team. Rather than speak highly of Mixon, Tobin only added fuel to the fire, “I can’t predict what the offseason will do… I can’t predict what other deals will get done or how much money we’ll need.”
Prior to the draft, Paul Dehner of the Athletic reported the Bengals are expected to ask Mixon to renegotiate his deal, or he will be “let go.” But after the draft, the tone changed a bit.
During his final draft press conference, head coach Zac Taylor vouched for Mixon. “His future is here with the team… I like Joe Mixon,” said Taylor, essentially shutting down any talks of Mixon leaving town.
Mixon is currently facing a misdemeanor aggravated menacing charge, but that’s not expected to affect his status with the team. While the pay negotiations are still expected to take place, Mixon will most likely be staying in Cincinnati in 2023.
How Chase Brown Complements Mixon
While Mixon looks to be safe for the upcoming season, the team may have just drafted his replacement. In the fifth round of this year’s draft, the Bengals drafted Brown out of Illinois. Brown was a bell-cow back for Illinois, amassing 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns on 328 carries in 2023. Cincinnati was looking for a bit more juice in the run game, and Chase’s 4.43 speed certainly brings that to the table.
Though he is an impressive prospect, the Bengals won’t expect Brown to be their bell cow in his first season in Cincinnati. Instead, they want someone who is going to complement Mixon’s game.
“At this point, it’s always going to be what complements Mixon for us. You know, we have a runner. We have a first and second-down style back, and so you try to find things that complement that. That’s going to be in the passing game, the protection role… and still has the ability to spell that part of the first and second-down game when needed,” said offensive coordinator Brian Callahan during an appearance on the LockedOn Bengals podcast prior to the draft.
So while Brown will be a key piece of the offense, Cincinnati won’t put too much on his plate during his rookie campaign.
Brown’s speed and explosion will be key to providing a change of pace for the Bengals. Mixon has good speed but may have lost a step or two over his six years in the NFL. Mixon can still grind away and get the dirty yards, but Brown will be used heavily in the passing game as well as a pass blocker to spare the former of any excessive hits as his career progresses.