Now that Joe Mixon has "The Bag," the Bengals' two-time 1,000-yard running back is looking at an offense filled with goodies.
"Our offense right now, I believe it's going to be very special," Mixon said after agreeing to a four-year extension. "The fans have a lot to look forward to. We're definitely going to put on a show."
Even before the negotiations began in January, Mixon would call his new contract, "the bag." He wanted the bag just like he wants the ball in yet another competition with the league's elite backs.
"Honestly, not really," said Mixon, when asked if he sought a specific number. "But I wanted market value because I feel like that's where I belong. I know they view me that way and I know me. I definitely felt like market value. Top tier market value."
The reports have Mixon's bag at $48 million and you can break it down like a chemistry compound. But it simply makes him one of six backs averaging $12 million per year, the only backs making more than the franchise number of $10 million. Top shelf. And you know Joltin' Joe. When the deal is done in 2024, he'll be only 28.
"I'll just be getting into my prime," Mixon said.
Like any true Bay Area kid who grew up watching war horse Frank Gore first run the NFL ball for the 49ers, Mixon believes he can play ten more years if his luck holds out because, like he says, "I keep myself in great shape."
The month before the 49ers drafted Gore in the third round in 2005, Denver-based agent Peter Schaffer got the Bengals to pay Rudi Johnson the same five-year, $26 million deal they gave all-time rusher Corey Dillon in 2001 even though Johnson had one 1,000-yard season and Dillon had four before he signed.
The deal Schaffer did for Mixon Wednesday not only makes him the richest Bengals back ever, it figures to net him around $26 million in the deal's first two years.
"Those were my marching orders," Schaffer said. "Joe wanted to stay in Cincinnati."
Keep the year 2005 in mind. That's the year Johnson set the Bengals' single-season rushing record with 1,458 yards and that is a specific number he has in mind.
"I'd like to get that season record," Mixon said. "I think I've got it in me."
The Bengals know it is, but they also know there's a lot more than those Joltin' Joe yards in him. They know he is also Jaunty Joe, a charismatic locker room leader whose good vibes are contagious. When the talks boiled Tuesday after a week Mixon was sidelined with migraines, that's the pitch he made in a Face Time with Bengals vice president for player personnel Paul Brown.
"We talked to ownership and I just told them I feel like there's no one that plays football with the passion and energy and the way I really love and enjoy playing football," Mixon said. "Being the best teammate, cheering my teammates on and making plays. There's no better feeling. I think that went a long way with them, especially with the leadership part that I bring to the team. Other factors were involved for sure, but, hey, we made it work."
It's a long way from Draft Day, 2017, when Mixon, an obvious first-round talent, fell to the second round still paying for an ugly incident that got him suspended at the start of his college career at Oklahoma. But the Bengals did their due diligence, embraced him and Mixon has blossomed into not only their two-time de facto MVP and emotional leader, but also as one of their most popular players.
"I felt like this is where I belong, this is where I wanted to be after getting drafted here," Mixon said. "I also feel like this is home for me.
"It's definitely a blessing. Words can't describe the feelings of what went on (Tuesday). It's like I tweeted earlier. God is always on time when you really need him. He hears you all the time, but he truly makes you feel his presence when you really need him."
Mixon has practiced enough with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to know he'd like a long-term partnership with the draft's overall No. 1 pick.
"Burrow, he came in day one and he turned a lot of heads," Mixon said. "He sees stuff on the field before it happens. He's so developed so early, he's not your average, typical rookie.
"I look forward to growing with him as a player and person. I just like everything about him. His swag, the way he walks around, his confidence. He's a confident person like me. I think we go hand in hand with each other."
Mixon has a short list of boxes to check now that The Bag is in hand. He wants to sit down and make a budget. He wants to thank Schaffer for "doing his best for me." He'll start looking for a house in Cincinnati.
But he's already checked some other boxes.
"As far as being a leader," Mixon said, "I'm just going to be me."
Check out some of the best photos from the first three seasons of running back Joe Mixon with the Bengals. Mixon and the Bengals agreed to a four-year contract extension.