Jessie Bates and the Cincinnati Bengals can no longer negotiate a contract extension until after the 2022 season, but the fifth-year safety is utilizing the last ounce of leverage and self-preservation he has.
Per multiple reports, Bates was the only veteran to not report for training camp today.
Bates has not signed his franchise tag that would pay him a base salary of $12.9 million for the season. However, that doesn’t give him any long-term security after already playing out a contract year in 2021.
Bates can wait until the start of the 2022 season to sign his franchise tag and still receive his full salary, so that is the next step we will likely see.
Team president and owner Mike Brown has alluded to the idea of attempting to negotiate with Bates again next offseason. Head coach Zac Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo have also mentioned that they will be waiting for Bates when he is ready.
This is not an easy thing, which is often why the business side of the game can get so ugly. The reality is if Bates hit the open market, he would likely become the next highest-paid safety in the league. Thus is the reality for the best players at every position.
However, the Bengals are in a place where cap space the next couple of seasons will be at a premium. Extending players like quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase are likely going to take up a large portion of the future cap space due to how the front office structures contracts.
Bates also wants the security of a long-term deal incase of a serious injury taking away his ability to cash in on the open market. Avoiding injury is a plausible reason why Bates isn’t reporting to camp.
This is what Bates threatened to do, and the Bengals are living with that. We’ll see if a resolution arrives in time for Week 1.