What does Joe Mixon have to do to have a successful first season in Houston

Joe Mixon has a lot to prove but what does he have to do to live up to his lofty cost?
Houston Texans Mandatory Minicamp
Houston Texans Mandatory Minicamp / Tim Warner/GettyImages

When it's all said and done, Joe Mixon cost the Houston Texans a lot. When he was traded here from the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans only gave up a 2024 seventh-round draft pick. On paper, that doesn't seem like too much. Especially due to how wild the free-agent period was for running backs. Had Mixon not been traded, he would've been up for anyone to sign, leaving the Texans without a featured back.

So they coughed up a seventh-rounder and then paid Mixon a butt load of money. The Texans committed $25 million to Mixon over the next three seasons. Not only giving an aging running back, who has never hit elite status before in his career, a lot of money but also tying up future cash for potential major players. If Mixon is making this money, it means it's not being used on better players.

Specifically, better options at running back. Mixon is the byproduct of what happens when you lowball the players you want, losing out on Saquon Barkley and other elite-level running backs this offseason. So they overpaid Mixon as a result.

I've made it clear, due to his age, declining performances, and a not-so-seemless fit within the Texans system, that Mixon wasn't the guy for the team. He's just not that guy. That said, I'm open to being wrong. Nothing in this world is a guarantee, just look at Raheem Mostert. He finally hit the 1,000-yard mark in 2023 at the age of 31. He also made his first Pro Bowl in 2023 as well.

After nine seasons in the league and five teams, Mostert became the player he knew he could be. Former NFL megastar Priest Holmes was another example of a late-bloomer at the running back position. Mixon could easily up his game. It's not likely, but it's possible.

So what would Mixon have to do to prove me wrong? Firstly, being a pass-catching threat is going to be huge. 2022 was the most productive year he had catching the ball, producing 441 yards through the air. A solid number, assuming he had produced normally while running the ball that season. Instead, he rushed for just barely 800 yards, making his total yard-from-scrimmage the third-lowest of his career. It was also the lowest of any season where he started at least 14 games.

Mixon has to produce better than in 2022. If he can hit at least 500 yards receiving, on top of a 1,000-yard rushing season, then we're looking at something that passes for a great season. On top of 1,500 total yards, we're going to need 10 total touchdowns. It doesn't matter how Mixon gets these, it just matters that he does.

If he can turn in a stat line of 1,500 total yards (500 of which should be receiving), with at or above 4.0 yards per carry, and at least 10 total touchdowns, I'll acknowledge that his signing was the right one.