The Cincinnati Bengals far exceeded expectations and made the playoffs. They were routinely given the lowest odds to win the AFC North.
Then, they won a playoff game and continued on to take down the top two teams in the AFC, both on the road. While they did come up short in Super Bowl LVI, it was a magical season, one made possible by a dynamic safety duo.
The duo of Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III led the team’s secondary, a drastically improved unit. Bates, who had an interception in the Super Bowl, was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded Bengal for the postseason.
Bates is set to become a free agent. This was the fourth season under contract for the team’s 2018 second-round pick. Bates could command a salary that would make him the highest-paid safety in the league.
Length of the contract and guaranteed money are also factors in most deals. The two sides have clearly been working on the terms of an agreement, but the pen hasn’t been put to paper quite yet.
“Those are conversations that will always be ongoing. I think everyone knows we want Jessie to be a part of this. We’ll just continue to work through those discussions,” Taylor said via NFL.com’s Nick Shook.
For the Bengals, who might have a reputation for being notoriously cheap, spending has become a habit. Adding Trey Hendrickson and D.J. Reader did not come at a small price tag. That’s why one should have hope that Bates will be back.
Bates didn’t have the best regular season of his career, missing 100 tackles for the first time in his career and also having just 1 interception (9 in the previous 3 years combined). However, when it mattered most, Bates stepped up.
His successful track record combined with his continued leadership should see him become one of the higher-paid safeties in the NFL this offseason.