Texans' DeMeco Ryans not worried about Joe Mixon drop-off

ByDJ Bien-Aime ESPN logo
Monday, March 25, 2024

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Houston Texans coach DeMeco Ryans says he isn't worried about any potential regression from Joe Mixon and is optimistic about what the running back can do for the Texans.

"So I'm not thinking about a drop-off," Ryans said at the annual owners meetings. "I'm thinking about the positives and the things that [Mixon has] done in his career. He's been consistent throughout his entire career -- a guy who can move the chains for you, a guy who can open up the passing game with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He just opens up the things that we can do offensively."

Mixon, who will turn 28 on July 24, received a three-year, $27 million contract extension (including $13 million guaranteed) from the Texans, who traded a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengalsto acquire him earlier this month.

Ryans feels Mixon's extension is justified as the Texans were looking for a "playmaker" at running back.

"Joe was a guy who's done it for a long time, and he's been very consistent. ... Adding a great player to our team. And we knew we had to fix the contract," Ryans said. "That was the same situation there in Cincinnati. When you add a great player to your team, he deserves what he got."

The discourse on running backs and their level of regression as they get closer to 30 has made teams hesitant to pay them when they approach that age. Mixon will receive $9 million in 2024, but based on his performance last season (1,034 yards with nine touchdowns), it's reasonable to expect him to still be productive.

Last season, according to ESPN Stats & Info, five running backs -- Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and James Connor -- were at least 28 years old and made at least $8 million. Henry and Connor rushed for over 1,000 yards, while Chubb and Jones failed to reach that mark. But Chubb averaged 6.1 yards per carry before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and Jones registered 4.6. Kamara was the only one who failed to rush for over 1,000 yards or at least 4 yards per carry.

The Texans hope Mixon can bolster their rushing attack, which ranked just 28th in yards per game (92.7) in 2023.

The 2017 second-round draft pick spent seven seasons in Cincinnati and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2021. Mixon had five seasons in which he finished with at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage and was a member of the Bengals team that lost to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

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