The Cincinnati Bengals have been working for over a year to extend safety Jessie Bates, but little to no progress has been made on a potential new contract.
Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on Bates earlier this offseason, but the former Wake Forest star has maintained that he won’t play on the tag in 2022 (a negotiation tactic — it’s doubtful that he’ll pass up $12.9 million this season).
Pro Football Focus recently detailed numerous players who are in line for an extension and they put Bates in the “up in the air” category.
The Bates-Bengals contract saga has been going on for over a year now, and things have only gotten tougher for Cincinnati. USA Today reported earlier this offseason that Bates has no plans to play under the franchise tag. Since Bates became extension-eligible last year, the safety market has been reset three separate times, most recently by Minkah Fitzpatrick(four years, $72.98 million).
The Bengals did use three 2022 draft picks on defensive backs, selecting Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt in the first two rounds and safety Tycen Anderson at No. 166 overall. But ultimately, Bates is one of the most valuable members of a team that just made the Super Bowl. Quarterback Joe Burrow recently talked about the importance of Bates to the team on and off the field. Both sides have until July 15 to find some common ground — or else the reigning AFC champs will potentially have to deal with an unhappy team leader going into the season.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine Bates receiving an extension from the Bengals. The likely scenario is that Bates begrudgingly plays this season under the tag, then Cincy tags him again next offseason so they can trade him.
One reason that an extension is extremely unlikely is because the Bengals desperately need to save cash so they can extend quarterback Joe Burrow after the 2022 season.
We learned earlier this week that Burrow is likely going to command a contract worth $55 million a year over five years. It’s possible that he’ll want all of that contract guaranteed (that could be the new standard for quarterbacks moving forward, thanks to Deshaun Watson).
If the Bengals give Burrow a $275 million guaranteed deal, they’ll need to put all of that cash in an escrow account upfront. Cincinnati is one of the most cash-strapped teams in the NFL, so they’ll need to be frugal. That means they can’t afford to tie up a significant amount of money in a Bates extension (especially since wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase will be looking at a mega extension in the not-so-distant future as well).
Bates’ time in Cincinnati is coming to an end. There’s really no way around it. I’d put the chances of him staying in Cincy long-term at less than 5 percent at this point.
Featured image via Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK