With two weeks remaining before the start of the NFL regular season, Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates has ended his holdout.
Bates reported to the team Tuesday and signed his franchise tag after Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Bates' return, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reporting he would sign the one-year franchise tender.
The Bengals used their franchise tag on Bates in March to ensure they would be able to hold on to him for at least one more season while the two sides negotiated a long-term deal.
When no deal materialized before the July 15 deadline, CBS Sports HQ's Josina Anderson reported the 25-year-old had "no intentions" of attending training camp when Bengals veterans were scheduled to arrive by July 26.
The franchise tag value for safeties in 2022 is $12.911 million. Rapoport noted in July that Cincinnati's final offer to Bates included only $4 million more in guaranteed money over five years than what he would make on the one-year tender this season.
Signing the tag now ensures Bates will be paid the entirety of the $12.911 million. It also allows him the opportunity to become a free agent next offseason.
The Bengals could use the franchise tag on him again in 2023, but it would cost them 120 percent of his salary for this season ($15.48 million) if the two sides are still unable to agree to terms on an extension.
Bates has been an essential piece of the Bengals defense since being selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. The Indiana native has started all 63 games he's played over the past four seasons, recording at least 100 combined tackles every year from 2018-20. He was named to the All-Pro second team in 2020.
In 15 starts last season, Bates recorded 88 combined tackles and a career-high three tackles for loss. He had two interceptions in four playoff games, including one on Matthew Stafford in the second quarter of Super Bowl 56 against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bengals will open the 2022 regular season on Sept. 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.