While the Bengals’ defense has struggled in recent years, one of their safeties emerged as a high-level performer in that span. Jessie Bates is on the cusp of a major payday, and the fourth-year defender would prefer it come from the Bengals.
Pro Football Focus’ top-graded safety in 2020, Bates is just 24 — nearly four years younger than Justin Simmons, who just signed a safety-record contract. It took the Broncos safety two franchise tags to secure that four-year, $61MM deal, but Bates should be in position to follow suit with a big-ticket extension — perhaps in the next several weeks.
“Obviously, I feel like I’m a core piece in Cincinnati. My family is three hours away, so I would love to be here,” Bates said, via Laurel Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News. “My main goal is to take that next level that I keep saying as a leader on this team. The money part of it will come. I just want to win.
“Any time it’s a new contract extension or anything, you get very excited, but like I said, I made a change with my agent last year for this reason. I think a lot of guys focus too much on it, but I feel very comfortable with the change that I made. He knows what he’s doing. It’s not his first time doing it.”
A little over a year ago, Bates hired David Mulugheta of Athletes First. Bates then had his best season as a pro, recording a career-high 15 passes defensed. He is now going into a contract year.
The former second-round pick has proven consistent since the Bengals took him 54th overall three years ago. The Fort Wayne, Ind., product has intercepted three passes in each of his three seasons and posted 100-plus tackles in all three. With six safeties signed to deals averaging more than $14MM per year, Bates can comfortably push to join them.
The Bengals have done a host of late-summer extensions in recent years, pointing to a window for Bates. Tyler Boyd signed his extension in July 2019, while Joe Mixon signed his in early September of last year. The Bengals gave recently departed stars A.J. Green, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap big-money re-ups just ahead of the 2015 and ’18 seasons, respectively. The franchise also has a rookie-quarterback contract around which to build now.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.