Jessie Bates

AFC Rumors: Bates, Sutton, Dolphins, Texans

The Bengals and Jessie Bates did not agree on an extension ahead of his contract year, and the veteran defender expressed frustration a deal did not commence. Bates previously hoped he would land a contract that kept him in Cincinnati long-term. With his future up in the air, the former second-round pick admitted he let his contract talks cloud his on-field performance to start the season.

So caught on to proving the wrong people right and the main thing I should be focusing on is proving the right people right as far as my coaches, my teammates, my family and not worry about all of the other stuff,” Bates said, via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I know that’s going to work out; I know what type of player I am; that stuff’s going to work out regardless.”

Pro Football Focus ranked Bates as its No. 1 safety in 2020; through nine games this season, the Wake Forest product slots in at No. 75 at the position. He has allowed a 79% completion rate when targeted — well north of the 54% mark of last season. While Bates should still be expected to generate considerable interest in free agency, should no extension agreement or franchise tag come to pass before that point, this season’s second half suddenly becomes pivotal for his long-term prospects.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Courtland Sutton joined Bates as a 2018 second-rounder, and the ex-SMU standout also joins him in being uncertain about his long-term status with his NFL team. Sutton has played in all 10 Broncos games this season, after tearing an ACL last September. The 6-foot-4 target is on pace for his second 1,000-yard season, but his production has been somewhat inconsistent — particularly in games when Jerry Jeudy has been active. The Broncos also have Tim Patrick going through a quality contract year, creating a decision. The franchise tag may be in play for Sutton in March, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes. This year’s tag figure came in at nearly $16MM for wideouts, during the pandemic-affected offseason. New GM George Paton called Sutton one of the team’s core players this offseason. The Broncos have used the tag frequently and have a long track record in extending those players — though, Justin Simmons played on the tag in 2020 before his re-up earlier this year.
  • After trying Lonnie Johnson at safety over the past two seasons, the Texans are changing the young defender’s position again. They are moving Johnson back to cornerback, David Culley said (via Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson). Houston drafted Johnson in the 2019 second round as a corner but tried him at safety over the past two seasons. The pivot resulted in Johnson being benched at that spot. The Texans also shopped Johnson ahead of the deadline. The team has vets Desmond King and Terrance Mitchell stationed as its outside starters, but in a rebuilding year, Johnson — who entered the draft with a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time despite a 213-pound frame — figures to see an opportunity to rebound at the position.
  • The Dolphins have shuffled their offensive line on a few occasions this year, tinkering with just about every starter’s role. The highest-profile move came recently, when the team moved 2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson from left tackle to left guard. While that could be a temporary fix, Brian Flores said (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson) the team likes the USC product at guard. Second-round rookie Liam Eichenberg is currently Miami’s left tackle.

Jessie Bates Addresses Bengals Contract Situation

After Jessie Bates expressed hope he would land a Bengals extension before the season, a report surfaced indicating the contract-year safety might have to play out his rookie deal.

Nearly a month away from Cincinnati’s season opener, Bates is set to earn $2.4MM in base salary. The talented safety’s comments on this situation may or may not indicate a certain level of annoyance, but time does remain for the sides to regroup and hammer out an agreement.

I think as far as my contract goes, I guess I haven’t done enough yet to be considered one of the top safeties in this league, which is fine,” Bates said during an interview with the Bengals radio announcers Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham (via WKRC). “That’s fine with me. I’m going to go to work just like any other day, my first three years being here.

Just being able to have that open conversation with my agent has been great in regards to just having the conversation, very open. I think this will probably be the last time that I speak on the contract just because I think it can get a little messy as far as thinking about it too much.”

No Pro Bowl invites have come Bates’ way yet, but the 2018 second-round pick is coming off a season in which Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s top safety. The Wake Forest product is 3-for-3 in 100-plus-tackle seasons and has intercepted three passes in each of his three pro years. This has not resulted in Bengals defensive success, with the team ranking near the bottom throughout Bates’ tenure, but the 24-year-old defender has largely done his part. He has started all 48 of the Bengals’ games over the past three seasons.

Bates would be a surefire franchise tag candidate, should the Bengals let this play out to that point. They did so with Carl Lawson and William Jackson, letting the defenders finish their rookie deals and leave in free agency. Cincinnati’s current defense features a number of free agency additions; Bates represents a homegrown talent who is poised to land a top-market contract. It will be interesting to see how the team proceeds here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals, Jessie Bates Not Progressing On Extension

One of the NFL’s best young safeties, Jessie Bates is going into a contract year. The former second-round pick expressed interest in signing a Bengals extension earlier this summer, but the sides are not currently on track to hammer one out.

Bates and the Bengals are not progressing on a deal, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), who adds the sides are not expected to reach an agreement at this time. While four weeks remain until the regular season begins, this situation has become one to monitor.

The Bengals have used their training camp and preseason stretches to reach extension agreements with core players in recent years — from A.J. Green to Carlos Dunlap to Geno Atkins to Joe Mixon. The team just extended defensive end Sam Hubbard, who joined Bates as a 2018 draftee. Bates certainly profiles as a fellow extension candidate and can aim for a deal north of $14MM annually. Jamal Adams is poised to reset the safety market; others at the position will be observing what his Seahawks talks produce.

The 24-year-old defender changed agents in 2020, preparing for negotiations once he became eligible for a new deal after his third season. Bates is coming off a strong third season, one that put him on the radar for a possible top-market safety pact. Pro Football Focus rated the Wake Forest product No. 1 overall at the safety position in 2020, when Bates intercepted three passes and eclipsed the 100-tackle barrier for the third straight season.

Cincinnati would have the franchise tag to place on Bates in 2022, should these talks fail to produce a deal. The Jets and Saints took this route with safeties Marcus Maye and Marcus Williams, respectively, this year. The Bengals balked at tagging defenders William Jackson or Carl Lawson this year, moving instead to let them walk and replace them in free agency. It would surprise if the team allowed Bates to test the market next year, but he remains attached to his rookie contract without much momentum to change that arrangement at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jessie Bates Aiming For Bengals Extension

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.

Bengals’ Jessie Bates Hires New Agent

Bengals free safety Jessie Bates III has changed representation and hired David Mulugheta of Athletes First, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Mulugheta counts Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, and other elite safeties among his clients. Bates, 23, could be in line for a big payday of his own someday. 

[RELATED: No. 1 Pick Joe Burrow Has Yet To Sign Bengals Deal]

The former second-round pick has two years left on his inexpensive rookie deal, but he’s already looking ahead to his next contract. Bates has started in every possible game over the past two seasons, racking up 211 tackles and six interceptions along the way. After celebrating his 23rd birthday in February, he could be poised for another major leap forward in 2020.

For now, Bates is set to earn $930 in base salary this year and slightly more in 2021 with cap hits of $1.3MM and $1.6MM, respectively. That’s an exceptional bargain for a high level free safety who is barely above the legal drinking age. The Bengals haven’t engaged in extension talks just yet, but it’ll be at the top of their agenda next spring.

In the interest of equal time: the advanced metrics weren’t all that high on Bates last year. But, as a rookie in 2018, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 11 ranked safety in the NFL.

In other Bengals news, the club is hoping to extend running back Joe Mixon. Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons and entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Sign Three Draft Picks

The Bengals signed four draft picks yesterday, and they’ve inked three more rookies today. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter) that Cincy has signed three players: second-round safety Jessie Bates, fourth-round running back Mark Walton, and fifth-round cornerback Darius Phillips.

Bates, who was taken with the 54th pick, is the most notable name on the list. The Wake Forest product finished his sophomore season with 77 tackles, six tackles for loss, and one interception. During the 2016 campaign, the safety had 100 tackles and five interceptions. The Bengals had been eyeing a cover safety, and Bates’ versatiltiy should help him get on the field. The 21-year-old is projected to play behind starters Shawn Williams and George Iloka to begin the year.

Following a 1,000-yard, 14-touchdown season in 2016, Walton’s 2017 campaign was cut short due to an ankle injury. The Miami product ultimately compiled 428 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries in only five games. Walton has also shown some talent catching the ball, hauling in 56 receptions during his three seasons. He’ll likely serve as the Bengals’ third running back behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

During his time at Western Michigan, Phillips set the FBS record with 12 return touchdowns. He’s a candidate to return kicks and punts in Cincinnati, and he’ll serve as a depth cornerback piece (alongside fellow fifth-round rookie Darius Phillips).

The Bengals have now signed seven of their 11 draft picks. That leaves first-round center Billy Price, third-round defensive end Sam Hubbard, third-round linebacker Malik Jefferson, and seventh-round receiver Auden Tate unsigned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Rumors: Richardson, Steelers, Ravens

The $3MM incentive package for Sheldon Richardson will center on the interior defender’s sack production. Richardson’s one-year, $8MM Vikings deal will include a $667K bump if he reaches six sacks, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. Should Richardson register eight sacks, that number spikes to $1.3MM. It rises to $2MM for a 10-sack slate. These benchmarks will be difficult to hit. The former first-round pick has only exceeded six sacks once in five seasons (eight in 2014). Richardson can also earn $500K if he makes the Pro Bowl, which he has done once (in that ’14 season). That will increase to $1MM if a first-team All-Pro nod follows the Pro Bowl acclaim, per Goessling.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.