One day after shunning the media and announcing a self-imposed ban of four of the beat writers who cover the team daily, Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon stood at his locker Monday and talked for more than 12 minutes.
But the subject of his turbulent offseason that saw him involved in two criminal cases, one in which he wasn’t charged and one in which he was before being found not guilty, was not something the seven-year veteran wanted to discuss at length.
Joe Mixon Speaks to Media for First Time Since Pay Cut
“I’m gonna keep it all football questions,” Mixon said. “It’s a great thing for everything to be pretty much over with and to be able to hone in on being the best teammate that I can possibly be, being the leader and captain that I am around this team.
“It’s a blessing to be here for another year, so I’m gonna just try to do whatever I can to be what I am to my teammates and the fans and try to do whatever I can to be that positive role model in this here locker room because that’s what matters.”
While Mixon didn’t want to go into details about his personal life with the media, he was asked if he felt the need to stand in front of his teammates and explain the situations.
The first saw him accused — and acquitted — of aggravated menacing in a road rage incident in which a woman claimed he pointed a gun at her and said “You should be popped in the face. I should shoot you, the police (can’t) get me” less than an hour before the team left for the airport to play Buffalo in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, and the second involved an acquaintance at his house firing on a group of teenagers playing “Nerf Wars,” striking one of them.
Mixon was not accused of a crime in that April incident, but he has been named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of the shooting victim.
“I felt like what’s understood don’t need to be explained,” Mixon said. “I feel like everybody on the team knew what it was. Everybody know what it is. At the end of the day, like I said, in terms of that, I’m gonna just keep on doing what I can to keep on being that positive role model around here.”
The one piece of the offseason Mixon was willing to address was the contract restructuring he agreed to after the team offered him the ultimatum of taking a pay cut or finding work elsewhere.
The new deal shaved $4.39 million of his $10.1 million original 2023 salary and, if he makes the team next year, takes another $4.67 off the $10.4 million he was due in the final season of the four-year, $48 million contract he signed in September 2020.
To make the pay cut more palpable, the Bengals made $4.1 million of the remaining money fully guaranteed, all but ensuring the team would not cut him regardless of the outcome of the aggravated menacing case.
Monday marked the first time Mixon has spoken publicly since agreeing to the pay cut, which was announced two weeks before the start of training camp.
But the subject was broached much earlier in the offseason as the Bengals began plotting how to extend their most important pieces, a plan that thus far has resulted in defensive end Trey Hendrickson and linebacker Logan Wilson getting new deals ahead of the massive Joe Burrow deal that is expected to be finalized before the start of the regular season. And possibly one for wide receiver Tee Higgins.
“You see all the pieces that we have together; we’re trying to keep everybody here in this here locker room. We see the Super Bowl window, and as long as we keep everybody together, we’re right there. Hopefully, these guys get their deals done, and I wish the best for them.”
Mixon said the chance to chase a Super Bowl means more to him than the numbers in his bank account.
“I’ve made money, and I’m comfortable where I’m at,” Mixon said. “It’s a blessing to be able to receive and try to get more, obviously, and help give a head start for generations. But for me, I feel good. I’m just glad we were able to get something done and, like I said, for them guys, I just hope they able to make things happen and get their deal done.”