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Texans Acquire Star RB Joe Mixon From Bengals

Newly acquired Houston Texas running back Joe Mixon
© Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Houston Texans have acquired running back Joe Mixon from the Cincinnati Bengals in a trade, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The specific details of the trade have not yet been announced, but it's likely that the Texans are only giving up a late-round pick in the upcoming draft, considering the Bengals' initial plans to release Mixon.


why did Cincinnati trade Joe Mixon?

Mixon has spent his entire professional career of seven seasons with the Bengals after they drafted him out of Oklahoma in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in four of those seven seasons and finished his Bengals career with 6,412 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns. Mixon's standout season came in 2021 when he rushed for 1,205 yards, scored 13 touchdowns, and earned his sole Pro Bowl selection.

The Bengals executed this trade to get younger at the running back position and help their salary cap numbers. By trading Mixon, they save $6.1 million and pave the way for second-year RB Chase Brown and newly acquired RB Zack Moss from the Indianapolis Colts to lead their backfield. At the start of the 2024 NFL season, Mixon will be 28 years old while Brown will be 24 years old and Moss will be 26 years old. Brown and Moss are scheduled to make roughly a combined $5.4 million ($915,000 for Brown and $4.5 million for Moss), which is less than the previously mentioned cap hit for Mixon.

Newly acquired Cincinnati Bengals running back Zack Moss
© Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Grade: C+

This grade is made with the assumption that the Bengals are acquiring a late-round pick, likely a sixth or seventh round, in the upcoming draft. While that is not a premium draft pick, this is a decent return for a player they planned on releasing anyway. In addition, they got younger at the running back position group and saved some money against the cap.


why did Houston trade for Joe Mixon?

Last season, the Texans had the following ranks overall in the NFL from a team-rushing perspective:

  • Rushing yards: 1,647 (22nd overall)

  • Yards per carry: 3.4 (29th overall)

  • Touchdowns (tied for 23rd overall)

  • Runs over 20 yards: 4 (tied for 30th overall)

  • Runs over 40 yards: 0 (tied for 24th overall)

Quarterback C.J. Stroud immediately established himself as a star in 2023 in his first season as a starter for the Texans. Stroud led the Texans to their first AFC South division title and playoff victory since 2019. Houston's front office, upon reviewing those rushing rankings, had to realize the need for improvement to avoid overburdening their young star quarterback and the increased risk of injury from throwing the ball too often.

Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud playing against the Baltimore Ravens
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

Following their missed opportunity to sign free agent RB Saquon Barkley, who went to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Texans saw a chance to bolster their backfield by trading for Mixon, ensuring they secured him without facing competition from other teams had Cincinnati released him. This grade is based on the assumption the Texans are giving up no more than a sixth-round pick in the upcoming draft and agreed to take on Mixon's cap hit of $6.1 million for 2024. Mixon has been a productive back in his career, but running backs historically decline at a much younger age compared to other positions and he will be 28 years old this next season.

Taking a one-year flyer on a player in the final year of his contract is not a bad risk given the financial incentive for Mixon to perform well. However, Pro Football Focus ranked the Texans' offensive line as the 25th best for 2023, so there is still work to be done there to improve the rushing attack in addition to this trade.



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