The Cincinnati Bengals are going to get used to practicing without Jessie Bates III.
Per USA Today’s Tyler Dragon, formerly of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bates has “no intention” on playing under the franchise tag this year and plans to skip offseason workouts and even training camp if he doesn’t reach a long-term deal with the Bengals.
Cincinnati placed the tag on Bates back in March, but Bates hasn’t signed it yet, meaning he won’t be subject to fines if he were to skip training camp practices. None of the team’s OTA sessions are mandatory and Bates has no workout bonuses to earn either.
While it’s disappointing for both sides, it’s not a shocking turn of events. Bates has made it public that he’s not a fan of the tag, and even spoke last year about the difficulty of playing in a contract year. That he doesn’t want to do that again isn’t surprising in the least.
Negotiations between the Bengals and Bates started at about this time last year when Bates was coming off a career season in 2020. They initially stalled leading up to the 2021 season and Bates had an underwhelming first half of the year. He returned to his 2020 form in time for the playoffs and performed at the top of his game during Cincinnati’s run to Super Bowl 56.
Despite his late-season resurgence, the Bengals couldn’t agree on an extension before the March 8th franchise tag deadline. They have a new deadline of July 15th to get Bates under contract for the foreseeable future, but if Bates is utilizing his last form of leverage by holding out, then it doesn’t seem like the two sides are any closer on reaching a new deal.
The Bengals’ defense is better with Bates patrolling centerfield, but their price and Bates’ price aren’t close to matching. That could lead to the team calling his bluff, or Bates never playing in Cincinnati again. We’ll find that out in July and the weeks that follow.