Reports: Bengals Tag FS Jessie Bates, Browns Tag TE David Njoku

Tuesday is the deadline to franchise tag players for the 2022 season. The Cincinnati Bengals have made use of their tag, reportedly doing so to free safety Jessie Bates. That comes via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The two sides are reportedly still working towards striking a long-term deal. But the tag will allow more time to work on an extension.

Bates was the Bengals’ second round pick in the 2018 draft. He’s been a ballhawk for the team, picking off ten passes over his first four seasons. His 2021 regular season saw him struggle early on and he finished the year with just one pick, but he recorded a pair of interceptions in the team’s Super Bowl run, including one in the Super Bowl loss to the Rams. Bates is still looking for his first career INT against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh showed interest in Bates coming out of Wake Forest. But they ultimately decided to surprise many by choosing Terrell Edmunds in the first round instead. Of course, that in a way led them to Minkah Fitzpatrick as their current-day free safety so Pittsburgh got a stud at the position just the same. Edmunds is set to be a free agent after the team declined his fifth-year option last season. It’s unknown if the team plans to re-sign him.

Also around the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns tagged TE Davis Njoku. They are expected to release Austin Hooper and add several playmakers to their receiver room this offseason.

Around the league, Chiefs’ OT Orlando Brown Jr. is expected to be tagged, while the Packers are likely to do the same for star WR Davante Adams. One notable player not expected to be tagged is Patriots’ top corner J.C. Jackson, who will likely hit free agency as the top cornerback on the market.

The Steelers are not expected to use the tag on any of their pending free agents.

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