5 NFL players who will earn big money in contract years

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /
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Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

56. Scouting Report. 3. player. Joe Mixon. Pick Analysis. RB. Cincinnati Bengals

It will be interesting to see what happens to Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon when he approaches his second contract in the league. A first-round talent coming out of the University of Oklahoma in 2017, but his draft stock dropped because of the awful video we’ll never be able to unsee. Though he may not be for everyone, he’s been a great player for the Bengals.

Mixon has rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Though the team hasn’t been the least bit good, it’s not his fault. While he may not make as much as other players of his caliber, Mixon is poised to earn more coin than the $1.36 million he’s averaged over the life of his rookie deal. If he rushes over 1,000 yards for a third-straight season, maybe he gets franchise tagged?

2021 will be Mixon’s age-25 season, so he should have plenty of tread left on the tire to play out a second contract in the league no problem. Though he’s not likely to garner what some of his contemporaries might on perception alone, he’ll certainly end up making more than he does now, while the Bengals or some other team could get him on a perceived discount.

2020 is a critical year for Mixon, not just because it’s a contract year, but because it’ll be Joe Burrow‘s first season under center in the Cincinnati offense. Having a bell-cow back he can rely on in Mixon will be huge in how Burrow’s rookie season out of LSU goes. The Bengals tend to do things their own way. They could go cheap and not pay Mixon, but they might just bring him back.