Once June comes in the NFL, some teams will cut ties with veteran players in an attempt to remove the player from the roster while also spreading their dead money over multiple seasons instead of just one. This year, the Kansas City Chiefs might be able to add a talented veteran as a result of one of those releases.
In 2023, a Pro Bowler by the name of Joe Mixon, who is the running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, could be one of the veterans that are released with a post-June 1 designation. David Latham of Last Word on Sports detailed the reasoning behind the potential decision to cut ties with Mixon, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $48 million extension that he signed in 2020.
“Honestly, it’s a little surprising that Joe Mixon is still a member of the Cincinnati Bengals,” Latham wrote on May 25. “The 27-year-old running back carries a $12.8 million cap hit, started to show signs of slowing down last year, and is staring down some legal troubles. Perhaps the Bengals are hoping that the running back market starts heating up, but that doesn’t seem particularly likely. The Bengals can save $10.04 million in cap space but cutting him or finding a trade partner after June 1st, and this feels like a no-brainer for the organization.”
Joe Mixon: A Talented Back With Lots Still to Offer
Joe Mixon, 26, entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Bengals in 2017. Since being drafted, Mixon has rattled off three 1,000-yard seasons, 50 total touchdowns (40 rushing, 10 receiving), and has also racked up 1,763 receiving yards in 80 games played according to Pro Football Reference.
One of his most impressive stats, though, is his fumbles — during the last six seasons, Mixon has fumbled the ball just six times (three of which ended up being turnovers) per PFF.
The main reason — aside from freeing up cap space — that Mixon could be released in the coming weeks is because his production has not matched the money given to him in his $45 million extension. Since 2020, Mixon has missed a total of 16 games and amassed 1,000 rushing yards just once during that three-season span.
Running back has become a devalued position in the NFL, so Mixon was already fighting an uphill battle. But tack on inconsistent production from him over the last three seasons, and it’s understandable why Mixon, a 2021 Pro Bowler, might be on the chopping block.
Is Joe Mixon an Option for Chiefs?
If Joe Mixon is cut by the Bengals, the Chiefs should absolutely consider signing him.
Kansas City’s current backfield includes Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, La’Mical Perine, and undrafted rookie Deneric Prince. Pacheco is the only player from that bunch that has shown the capability to own a large part of the early-down work for the Chiefs throughout an NFL season, be effective in that role, and most importantly — stay healthy enough to fill that role. But even Pacheco wasn’t able to do that his rookie season without dealing with some substantial injuries that he opted to play through.
Placing Mixon in a backfield like Kansas City’s, where he could split touches with Pacheco on early downs while also being a factor in the receiving game, would be great for him.
Mixon’s role in Kansas City would be much smaller than it was in Cincinnati, where he averaged 15 total touches per game during the 2022 regular season. While that might hurt his chances of getting a lucrative contract in free agency — whether it’s this year or in years to come — a lighter workload could potentially extend Mixon’s NFL career. So, the Chiefs are at least worth considering from Mixon’s perspective if he is cut post-June 1, especially if he has aspirations of winning a championship in the NFL.
From Kansas City’s perspective — the team is going to have to free up some cap space if it wants to make any kind of significant addition moving forward.
According to Over The Cap’s effective cap space (the cap space a team will have after signing at least 51 players and its projected rookie class to its roster), the Chiefs are $1.7 million over the cap as it currently stands. The defending Super Bowl champions also have yet to agree to contract terms with rookie second-round pick Rashee Rice.