Bengals RB depth chart: How Zack Moss signing, Joe Mixon’s release impacts Cincinnati’s backfield

The tides are changing in Cincinnati’s backfield.

After seven seasons with Joe Mixon leading the way as RB1, the Bengals are starting anew. They inked Zack Moss to a two-year, $8 million deal on the first day of free agency, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Shortly thereafter, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Cincinnati and Mixon had parted ways.

Moss’ impending arrival, coupled with Mixon’s departure, represents a sea change for Zac Taylor’s side. With Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase secure in their future in The City of Seven Hills, the Bengals are blessed with plenty of offensive firepower. Yet, the run game has proved a vital complement to the Bengals’ explosive air attack.

How could Cincinnati’s ground tactics change with Moss in the fold? The Sporting News gives you the run down (no pun intended) on the Bengals RB depth chart after their recent changes.

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Bengals RB depth chart

1. Zack Moss

With Mixon’s departure, Moss immediately rockets to the top of Cincinnati’s run depth chart. Moss has never been tasked with being a lead back for the whole of a season. He did show flashes of liveliness in Indianapolis while filling in for Jonathan Taylor last year, however.

When Taylor was absent with injuries, the Colts’ staff handed Moss the lion’s share of Taylor’s carries. It was a fairly successful experiment. In games Moss in which recorded at least 18 carries, Indianapolis went 4-2.

Moss ended the campaign with 794 rushing yards, 192 receiving yards, and seven total TDs on 183 carries and 27 catches — easily the most productive season of his professional career.

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At 5-9, 205 pounds, Moss is a rugged runner between the tackles. He averaged 0.71 yards over expected per attempt last season, per Next Gen Stats, the fifth-best mark in the league. The only players who ranked above him were a who’s who of runners: De’Von Achane, Christian McCaffrey, Jaylen Warren, and James Conner.

At just $4 million AAV, Moss should be a low-risk, high-reward option in Cincinnati’s backfield. With Burrow and Chase leading the line, that might be just what the Bengals need going forward.

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2. Chase Brown

Serving as Moss’ understudy heading into the 2024 season is former Illinois standout Chase Brown.

Brown saw precious little time in his maiden season in the NFL, racking up just 44 carries over the course of 12 appearances, though he did come on with some nice performances late. He proved a more formidable threat in the passing game, reeling in 14 catches, 156 yards, and one touchdown.

With an average of 4.1 yards per carry, Brown’s production on a per-yard basis was eerily similar to that of Mixon’s. Perhaps an upswing in carries could net some positive gains for the elusive, versatile back. He could form a nice “thunder-and-lightning” combo with Moss.

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3. Trayveon Williams

Williams is third-in-command in Cincinnati’s RB room. A 2019 sixth-round selection, Williams has rarely seen the field in Bengals colors, posting just 62 carries for 307 yards in five seasons.

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A 5.0-yard-per-carry career average could prove enticing for Bengals fans. However, given Williams’ lack of contributions over the years, it seems more likely that he’ll feature as a bit-part or practice squad member than a regular contributor.

4. Chris Evans

A former sixth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Evans (5-11, 215 pound) is more pass-catcher than rusher, having accrued 19 catches for 188 yards and three touchdowns — one of which was a game-winner to vanquish the Chiefs in 2022. He’s also featured heavily as a kick returner in his time in the league, a role he’s likely to reprise in 2024.

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