Report: Jessie Bates III, Bengals Not Expected to Reach New Contract 'At This Time'August 10, 2021
The Cincinnati Bengals and fourth-year safety Jessie Bates III "are not expected to reach a contract extension at this time," according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Bates is entering the final year of his rookie contract and due to earn $2.4 million in 2021. Fowler indicated he and the team remain apart in negotiations over a new deal.
The 2018 second-round pick boosted his value last season after finishing with 108 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions. Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson listed him among the biggest snubs from the All-Pro team:
"Bates had three interceptions and 12 pass breakups, more than any other safety this season, and did much of that work playing single-high free safety where plays on the ball are more difficult. He finished the year with a 90.1 overall PFF grade, the best mark of any safety. And he did so with a defense that was disastrous at times around him."
The Bengals have built a reputation for being a bit thrifty and not the most player-friendly organization.
In the past, however, they haven't been afraid to shell out pay raises to retain their top stars such as A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Andy Dalton, Carlos Dunlap and Tyler Boyd. Sam Hubbard just signed a four-year, $40 million extension.
The way in which the front office approached this offseason could be telling with Bates' 2022 free agency looming, though. Cincinnati signed Trey Hendrickson instead of three years and $45 million with the New York Jets. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, meanwhile, will be tasked with helping to replace William Jackson III at cornerback.
At $15.3 million, the Denver Broncos' Justin Simmons is the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Jamal Adams will presumably reset the market with his new deal, which could have a domino effect for Bates and others at the position.
The Bengals will have the franchise tag as an option to keep Bates on the team for 2022. Beyond that, Fowler's report will likely be concerning for fans when it comes to Cincinnati's willingness to pay market value for one of the game's better safeties.