The Denver Broncos have signed Cincinnati Bengals operating again Samaje Perine to a two-year deal price $7.5 million, per NFL Community’s Mike Garafolo.
Which means the breakup of the Bengals operating again tandem of Perine and Joe Mixon, who weren’t solely teammates within the NFL, but additionally on the College of Oklahoma.
“It was nice taking part in with Perine. We’re an amazing one-two combo,” Mixon mentioned. “By me figuring out him and him figuring out me, we clearly complement one another very nicely.”
Perine and Mixon each performed at Oklahoma from 2014 to 2016. Throughout his freshman season there, Perine set a Division-I file whereas operating for 427 yards on 34 carries in a single recreation.
After being suspended in 2014 for misdemeanor assault fees, Mixon would finish his OU profession by incomes All-Huge 12 honors in 2016 after gaining 1,274 dashing yards.
The Bengals drafted Mixon within the second spherical of the 2017 NFL Draft, and the then-Washington Redskins drafted Perine within the fourth spherical of that very same draft earlier than starting two stints with Bengals — the final one got here after he was claimed off waivers in 2020.
Mixon, although, is probably going following Perine out the door.
Mixon, 26, is beneath contract with the Bengals by way of the 2024 season, however Cincinnati can save about $10 million if it designates Mixon as a post-June 1 reduce.
After ending twenty ninth in dashing offense final season, the Bengals want extra from their operating recreation this season.
Maybe making him extra disposable, Mixon additionally may face potential authorized points after an alleged capturing at his dwelling this month.
So the Bengals could possibly be with out their prime two operating backs — the previous school teammates who meshed so nicely — from final yr.
“He used to pound on the protection,” Mixon mentioned. “And I used to simply slice and cube by way of them.”
Whereas Mixon had extra velocity and elusiveness, Perine did the pounding for good motive. On the 2017 NFL Mix, he bench pressed 225 kilos 30 occasions, a quantity that surpassed all however 4 offensive linemen that yr.
His feats of energy in school nearly sound mythological. A lady as soon as wanted to vary a flat tire however didn’t have a carjack, so he lifted up the Sensible Automobile for her.
Regardless of the facility that lent itself to operating up the intestine, Perine was additionally good within the cross recreation particularly as a third-down cross blocker.
That always led to him being on the sector greater than Mixon in these conditions.
It’s a part of the explanation that within the AFC Championship Recreation in opposition to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs in late January, Perine obtained extra snaps (65 %) then Mixon’s 35 %.
In the course of the Bengals’ Week 13 win in opposition to the Chiefs, Perine rushed 21 occasions for 106 yards.
Within the earlier yr’s AFC Championship Recreation, Perine caught a cross and ran 41 yards for a second-quarter landing. Displaying his yard-after-catch potential, he had a 0.5% probability of scoring a landing when he caught the cross, in keeping with Zebra Applied sciences.
However the school teammates as soon as once more complemented one another in that watershed recreation for the franchise. Whereas main all rushers with 88 yards in that victory, Mixon helped ship the Bengals to Tremendous Bowl LVI.
“They’ve two nice backs, man,” Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton mentioned. “I watched them each lots at OU and I watched them to proceed to play collectively within the league. And so they’re full opposites when it comes to the skillsets they carry to the offense, however they’re nonetheless each laborious tackles and laborious outs.”
Of their final yr collectively, Mixon began 14 video games and had 210 carries for 814 yards (a 3.9-yard common) and 7 touchdowns and caught 60 passes for 441 yards and two touchdowns. Perine began two video games in 2022, dashing 95 occasions for 394 yards (a 4.1 common) and caught 38 passes for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns.
“There’s been numerous reminiscences,” Mixon mentioned.
Comply with me on Twitter.