The Cincinnati Bengals once again got oh so close in 2022, but Joe Burrow and company couldn’t quite get over the hump. Now the 2023 NFL offseason is upon us, and with free agency and NFL trades in full swing, now is the time to solidify a Super Bowl-winning team. One Bengals trade that could help do this is the team dealing running back Joe Mixon.

The perfect Bengals trade in the 2023 NFL offseason is shipping out Joe Mixon

After signing offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the obvious Bengals trade is shipping out OT Jonah Williams. And that should happen, too. The player wants out, and anyone who doesn’t want to be in Cincinnati should get their wish.

However, the more intriguing trade is with RB Joe Mixon.

Mixon is a talented back who has three 1,100-plus-yard seasons under his belt. He also posted career highs in catches (60) and receiving yards (441) last season. In the 2020 NFL offseason, Mixon signed a four-year, $48 million deal that will cost the Bengals $12.7 million against the cap in 2023.

Even for a team like the Bengals, who are still in good cap shape for next season with $17.8 million in room, that’s a lot to pay for a running back. The team could get similar production from free agents (although there are few left on the market) or a player they take in the draft.

A Bengals trade that sends out Mixon now would save Cincinnati about $7 million, and the team that got the RB would only be on the hook for his $9.4 million salary this season. At that point, the team could extend him for a year or two at a much more manageable number.

Another thing worth mentioning with Mixon is the off-field issues. He came into the league with an ugly incident at Oklahoma, and while he won’t be indicted for the shooting that took place at his home this NFL offseason, it is still a red flag.

The problem with this Bengals trade would be that it would leave the team with just two backs on the roster, Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans. Last season, William has six carries for 30 yards and Evans only had three catches for 38 yards.

Apparently, the franchise aggressively tried to keep Mixon’s partner last season, Samaje Perine, but he signed a deal with the Denver Broncos.

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To find an NFL trade partner for Mixon, the Bengals need a team that would benefit from having a veteran RB on the squad and who has the financial resources to pay a little more than average for that position.

The perfect NFL trade for Joe Mixon in the 2023 NFL offseason is sending him to the Arizona Cardinals for a third-round pick in the upcoming daft. And that works out well, as the Cardinals have two picks in that round at Nos. 66 and 96.

Currently, the Cardinals have James Conner and a few backs making less than $1 million next season. The team also has some nice cap room with $22.5 million on the books right now. With both Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy uncertain from a health perspective to start the season and DeAndre Hopkins likely on the move, the team could use a dynamic back to take some of the weight early in the season, especially.

In return, the Bengals get a third-round pick, which they can use to take another running back in the NFL draft.

In fact, with the current state of the Bengals roster — which is well-rounded throughout — taking two running backs to replace Mixon (and paying them much less) makes a lot of sense.

After this Bengals trade, Who Dey? Nation can start looking at RBs in the draft to target.

Assuming the team doesn’t look for RBs until Round 3 or later, Tyjae Spears from Tulane, Sean Tucker from Syracuse, or Kenny McIntosh from Georgia are all names to know.

Tucker is a 1st- and 2nd-down pound it into the line back, while Spears and McIntosh are both speedier outside runners who can come in for a change of pace and catch the ball on third downs. Joe Burrow would do well with any combination of these three runners behind him in 2023 as replacements for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.

One other fascinating player is Deuce Vaughn from Kansas State. He is a tiny player at 5-foot-5, 176 pounds, but he was an incredible multipurpose weapon in college. As a late-round flyer, Vaughn could give Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan a unique weapon the like of which they haven’t had before in their time with the Bengals.