Jessie Bates Wants To Stay With Bengals, Avoid Franchise Tag

After a substandard regular season, Jessie Bates delivered for the Bengals in the playoffs. The four-year veteran stands to be one of this year’s top free agents. But the Bengals are not expected to let the standout safety get that far.

Cincinnati is expected to keep Bates off the market. While the sides still have nearly two weeks to work out a long-term extension before the franchise tag window closes, the Bengals would have nearly five more months to finalize a deal if they applied the tag.

Hopefully I’m not under a franchise tag. That’s something that needs to be discussed as NFLPA a little bit,” Bates said during an NFL Network appearance (via “Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag. It’s tough; you only get one shot at this. You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say.”

The safety tag is expected to come in just north of $13MM. Being tagged would prevent the former second-round pick from parlaying his strong playoff performance into a monster safety pact. That said, the Wake Forest alum is two days from his 25th birthday. The Broncos tagged Justin Simmons in each of the past two offseasons but still wound up with a market-setting deal. Simmons became the NFL’s highest-paid safety when he signed an extension last year, at age 27. Bates should still have a chance to cash in, even if he plays the 2022 season on the tag.

Jamal Adams‘ four-year, $70MM extension is the current bar, but Bates said he is not overly concerned with “the ego part of being the highest-paid safety.” Still, Bates accepting a deal that paid him less than Simmons’ $15.25MM-per-year accord is unlikely.

Although Bates expressed disappointment in the Bengals not extending him ahead of last season, he would prefer to remain with the franchise. Bates graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020. While he slipped in 2021, Bates helped the Bengals make a surprise Super Bowl run by logging six pass breakups and two interceptions in the playoffs.

I know what type of men are in that locker room, along with the guys that are leading us. We have awesome coaches. I look forward to being a Cincinnati Bengal, but we’ll see what happens,” Bates said, while also noting Cincinnati’s proximity to his hometown (Fort Wayne, Ind.) factors into his aim to remain a Bengal.

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