The Cincinnati Bengals and safety Jessie Bates have been trying to come together on a long term deal since prior to the 2021 season. The now franchise tagged Bates is currently facing a deadline on the 15th to come to terms on a longer contract or sign the franchise tag guaranteeing him $12.9 million in 2022 and likely hitting the open market following the season.
A recent report from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo doesn’t see Bates and the Bengals coming to terms:
Bates has yet to sign his franchise tag and would be due $12.9 million on the tag in 2022. Bates, who earned $2.43 million in 2021 while helping the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance, would obviously get a significant raise, but it would come in comparison to Minkah Fitzpatrick recently signing an extension with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers that has him making a league-high $18.24 million per season. Garafolo doesn’t see the Bengals venturing into that per-year area code with Bates.
This has seemed to be the issue at the core of this negotiation. Bates is one of the best safeties in the NFL, and he sees what other players of his caliber are being paid. Bates likely wants to become the highest paid safety in the NFL, which is hard to argue against given how that is how contracts go in the NFL where every time a player of his caliber gets a deal it usually is record breaking at the position.
However, we know two pretty big things. Even with Cincinnati’s recent free agency splurge, they still avoid throwing huge guaranteed money at players. They also don’t value the safety position enough to play Bates what he is absolutely worth on the open market. It seems unless one side changes its mind that Bates will sign his franchise tag.
However, Garafolo also notes he expects Bates to be absent from training camp:
Garafolo doesn’t see Bates being in attendance at the start of Bengals training camp on July 26 without a long-term deal, which Garafolo doesn’t see coming to fruition.
That is a huge turnaround from when Bates was orchestrating the team to full attendance for OTA’s. Something they credited a lot with the turnaround of the defense. That is the business side of this game. Players’ know they have a limited amount of opportunities to hit the open market playing at Bates’ level. Most don’t even sniff it.
So either Bates decides to take a pretty big pay cut to stay with the team or moves on to make the money he is worth after the season.