Jessie Bates

Bengals’ Jessie Bates Hires New Agent

Bengals free safety Jessie Bates III has changed representation and hired David Mulugheta of Athletes First, as’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.