"I want to be a Bengal for life," the 23-year-old running back told reporters Monday. "I haven't really thought about an extension. Right now is definitely the time to start getting into it. I don't know much about the extension part. I just have to go in and hopefully we work something out. I just wish for the best. The ball is in their court, not mine."
The Bengals selected Mixon out of Oklahoma in the second round (No. 48 overall) of the 2017 NFL draft, and 2020 is the final year of his four-year rookie contract.
Mixon tallied 1,137 yards and five touchdowns on 278 carries across 16 games this season to follow up his 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. He also is coming off a solid campaign as a receiver with 287 yards and three touchdowns on 35 catches.
Mixon added Monday:
"I hope I put up enough tape for them to believe in me. I don't know their thought process. No matter what happens, I know I gave my all out there. I hope they know. We're going to see, man.
"I've been all about the team. It comes to a point where I've got to think about me. I hope for the best. I haven't thought that stuff over. I'll have a talk with my agent. That's what I pay him for. The ball's in their court. I'm not stressed over no contract. None of that."
Mixon was a rare constant in a fluctuating offense in 2019. The Bengals, 0-8 at the time, benched veteran quarterback Andy Dalton on Oct. 29 for rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Finley. Finley started Weeks 10, 11 and 12 before Dalton regained the starting job for the remainder of the year.
Receiver A.J. Green also missed the entire season with a left ankle injury suffered during a July practice that required surgery and a visit to foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. The seven-time Pro Bowler has missed 23 of the last 24 games with lingering ankle/foot injuries (h/t Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson).
According to Hobson, Mixon is on pace to become a Bengals legend like Green: "Running back Joe Mixon went into the offseason with 2,931 yards in his first three Bengals seasons. Right in the middle of the franchise bests in their first three Bengals’ seasons: Corey Dillon 3,459, Cedric Benson 3,109, James Brooks, 2,412, Rudi Johnson 1,024."
The Bengals own the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Cincy could select LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.
Assuming Burrow lands with the Bengals with the likes of Green, Mixon and tight end Tyler Boyd staying put, head coach Zac Taylor would have a talented core to build around in his second season and beyond. The Bengals have not made the postseason since 2015 and have not won a playoff game since 1990—the longest active drought in the league.