Joe Mixon, holdout
Dec 1, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) reacts as he runs off the field after the Bengals defeated the New York Jets at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey just became the highest-paid running back in league history. Now, his peers at the position have their sights set on landing their own mega contracts and one of them is already preparing to holdout.

According to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner, the Cincinnati Bengals are already prepared for star running back Joe Mixon to holdout of training camp this summer if the sides can’t agree to a contract extension. Mixon, who is entering a contract year, is an integral part of Cincinnati’s offense.

The 23-year-old struggled early in the season behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines and without a consistent threat at quarterback. After averaging under 3.5 yards per carry in the first two months without a rushing touchdown, Mixon turned it on in December with 538 rushing yards and four scores.

Viewed by many to be a first-round talent in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mixon fell to the second round after a video came out of him punching a woman. The Bengals took a chance on the talent, despite the maturity concerns, and he’s proven to be one of the best all-purpose backs in the NFL ever since.

McCaffrey will make $16 million annually under his new deal, joining Ezekiel Elliott ($15 million) and Le’Veon Bell ($13.1 million) among the league’s highest-paid players at the position.

Mixon and New Orleans Saints star Alvin Kamara are both scheduled to hit free agency next offseason and both could be seeking multi-year deals worth more than $13 million per season. They might struggle to top McCaffrey’s record-setting deal, but both star talents could come close to Elliott’s contract.

Of course, recent history has also proven signing running backs to massive contracts rarely works out. Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman were cut just a few years into their deal, while the Arizona Cardinals traded David Johnson.

The Bengals will need Mixon in 2020, especially with Joe Burrow expected to be under center. If everyone is on the field, Cincinnati’s offense could improve significantly next season. The risks of paying Mixon are obvious, but the Bengals have shown a willingness to spend money this offseason.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick