The Cincinnati Bengals have decisions to be made this offseason, and there will be a clear pecking order in which the team should want to get them done.
Superstar quarterback Joe Burrow will be up for an extension, and that is a deal that should be expected to get done. Ja’Marr Chase will be eligible next season, and if they want to retain their No. 2 weapon, Tee Higgins will also be up for an extension this offseason.
Defensive weapons like Logan Wilson (one year left on rookie contract) and Germaine Pratt (entering unrestricted free agency) must be considered as well.
With those contracts in the midst of it all, what will happen to Jessie Bates III as he played on the franchise tag this past season and will enter free agency in 2023?
ESPN analyst Field Yates made a bold prediction that Bates will be retained by Cincinnati.
“Yes. The Bengals are about to enter ‘good problem to have’ territory, as the bill comes due as soon as this offseason with extensions for Burrow and Higgins. Ja’Marr Chase is extension-eligible in 2024, and planning has to start now. But Bates has made far too many plays during his tenure for the Bengals to let him go, including five picks over the past three seasons. It’ll cost a deal near the top of the market for safeties to keep him, though,” Yates said about Cincinnati bringing back Bates.
Since being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Bates has been one of the best safeties in the NFL. This season wasn’t his best, totaling 71 tackles, down from 88 last season.
He had 100-plus combined tackles in each of his first three seasons. His passes defended were also down from 15 in 2020 and 9 in 2019. However, the impact was still there, and he is certainly going to command a top-tier salary.
What that exactly means, coupled with how long of a contract it is and how much guaranteed money is due, is another question altogether.
Bates could be back, but for now, it seems highly unlikely.