Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon rather quietly has been a 1,000-yard rusher each of the past two seasons and now wants a new contract. Here are Mixon’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
was a terrific player in his two seasons at Oklahoma but had some serious off-field issues and thus slipped to the No. 48 overall pick by the Bengals in the 2017 draft. He was viewed as a first-round talent by some scouts, but several teams removed him from their draft board entirely due to character concerns after a prior assault on Amelia Molitor, a female student at Oklahoma. The editorial board of Cincinnati TV station WCPO criticized the draft pick and called for a boycott of the Bengals.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women.”
Mixon opened his 2017 rookie season as Cincinnati’s No. 3 tailback but strong play and a season-ending injury to Jeremy Hill moved him into starting role by mid-season. Mixon played in 14 games with seven starts and led the team in rushing yards (626) carries (178), and rushing TDs (four). He added 30 receptions for 287 yards.
In 2018, Mixon missed two games with a knee injury yet still led the AFC in rushing with 1168 yards (fourth in NFL). He became first Bengals player to ever lead the AFC in rushing in a season (RB Paul Robinson led the AFL in rushing in 1968) and was the Bengals’ first 1000-yard rusher since Hill (1124) in 2014.Mixon had four 100-yard rushing games, and seven games of at least 100 yards from scrimmage (most since Cedric Benson’s nine in 2009).
While the Bengals were terrible last year with an NFL-worst 2-14 record, Mixon was a bright spot. He closed the season in style, rushing 26 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns during a Week 17 33-23 upset of Cleveland. Mixon had 100 yards and/or one touchdown in 6-of-8 games down the stretch in 2019.
Mixon finished the year with 1,137 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns to go along with 35 receptions for 287 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. Mixon is the league’s seventh-leading rusher over the past two seasons and once coach Zac Taylor, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and offensive line coach Jim Turner conspired to fix the running game last year, over the final eight games in 2019 only Derrick Henry had more yards. Mixon is one of just four running backs over the past two years to have two 1,000-yard seasons with at least a combined 78 catches.
Mixon reportedly is prepared to holdout of training camp this summer if he and the Bengals can’t agree to a long-term deal. Mixon is headed into the final year of his rookie deal, which is set to pay him just over $1.2 million. That’s criminally underpaid. The Bengals are usually pretty cheap but did spend money this offseason. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said the team has “visited with” Mixon about a long-term deal.
Tobin added, “Joe’s obviously a guy that’s shown a lot of ability … He’s in a year that he can be extended, and he is a guy that we visited with. We’ll go through those discussions and see if there is a fit or a match for a long-term contract with him, obviously a guy we value quite a bit. The great thing about Joe is he goes about it the right way . . . He’s the type of guy you want to lock up to a long-term deal. We’ll see if we can find the commonality to get that done over time here.”
The addition of quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, combined with the return of 2019 first-round offensive tackle Jonah Williams and top receiver AJ Green, who both missed all of last year, should only help both Mixon’s chances of winning the rushing title.
Cincinnati is a 3-point home underdog for Week 1 vs. the LA Chargers.