Even with the regular-season opener a mere dozen days away and no fans allowed to see the Chargers and Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals president Mike Brown's off-season meter Tuesday hit an estimated $200 million in money committed since March.
According to multiple reports the Bengals reached a four-year, $48 million extension with running back Joe Mixon, a deal he heralded by tweeting a picture of him in his practice jersey with Bengals executives Katie and Elizabeth Blackburn and Paul Brown. Elizabeth Blackburn, the club's director of strategy and engagement, took the selfie and Mixon then proceeded to jog out to his first practice in more than a week after suffering from migraines.
When the deal gets signed it's the biggest contract in franchise history for a running back, worthy of a two-time 1,000 yard rusher who has been the team's de facto MVP the last two years in the absence of wide receiver A.J. Green. The Denver-based Peter Schaffer, Mixon's agent, had negotiated the previous biggest deal for a Bengals back when he got Rudi Johnson the same five-year, $26 million deal in 2005 that Bengals all-time rushing leader Corey Dillon got in 2001.
Paul Brown, the Bengals vice president for player personnel, did the heavy lifting in the deal during negotiations with Schaffer, a long-time friend from Brown's days in Colorado.
Mixon, who turned 24 last month, is a locker-room favorite whose enthusiasm the last two dark seasons of injury and change helped keep his team afloat. With 2,931 career yards, Mixon is no doubt taking dead aim at Dillon's club record of 8,061.
He kept things going with Green shelved, but now Green is back, playing on a one-year, $18 million franchise tag. Although the pandemic has rendered the nation's economy creaky and uncertain, Brown has plowed away with his spending.
In targeting defensive stalwarts in free agency such as nose tackle D.J. Reader (four years, $53 million), cornerback Trae Waynes (three years, $42 million) and strong safety Vonn Bell (three years, $18 million), the Bengals seem to be emboldened by the presence of overall No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow.
TAKING ATTENDANCE: Green was suited up but still seems to be doing individual drills only … Defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels looked to be getting a rest day … Left end Carlos Dunlap was back after missing a week with an injury … Cornerback Mackensie Alexander returned back to the field after an exhausting and exhilarating 10 days his father was lost and then found back home in Florida.
TALE OF TWO BACKERS: Two linebackers that had pretty good scrimmages Sunday night and are in the middle of that room's makeover actually met long before this.
Second-year man Germaine Pratt and rookie Akeem Davis-Gaither played against each other when they were in high school in North Carolina and ADG's Bulldogs of Thomasville High School went down the road to High Point and beat Pratt's Bison of Central High School.
"I knew of him. It was exciting to see his name go across the screen on draft night," Pratt said. "Just excited for the guy. He's a calm, collect guy. He carries himself like a pro. I think he'll do great things."
Davis-Gaither, drafted with the first pick on the last day of the draft at the top of the fourth round, had a little better memory of that one.
"Might have been my freshman or sophomore year," ADG said. "We went in there and beat them. They was pissed off. I always knew Pratt was a good player. I followed him throughout college. Those were some fun games."