A franchise tag is little more than a band-aid, and even then, it doesn’t always provide the temporary relief it’s supposed to. A player could decide not to sign the tender. A team could pull the tender. Both scenarios have happened in the recent past.
That probably won’t happen in the case of safety Jessie Bates and the Cincinnati Bengals, but it’s not clear that they are trending toward getting a long-term contract extension done, either. They already tried to get him under contract last year, and failed to do so.
“I don’t view it that different from last year”, said team executive vice president Katie Blackburn. “We would have loved to get something done but if not we hope that he would play and be a great part of the team and we would be happy to have him as part of the team either way”.
Last year, Bates was playing out the final year of his rookie contract, not playing under the tab, so there wasn’t even a time limit in terms of getting a deal done. Under the franchise tag, any multi-year negotiation must be completed by the end of the business day on July 15.
Of course, the 2021 offseason was an unusual one because of the plunging salary cap, an inevitable aftereffect of the empty stadiums that populated the NFL landscape the year before, and the revenue shortfall that went hand-in-hand with it.
“We obviously tried to get him re-signed last year. Thought we had a good chance of getting that done but it didn’t quite get there”, Blackburn said. “I think they wanted to see where the market went in free agency and at some point, we’ll circle back with him and see where we are. But obviously, we love Jessie as a player and if there’s a way we could get something worked out, that would be great. And we just have to see where it goes”.
That doesn’t sound overly optimistic that they are quite confident they will reach a deal. And the truth is that Bates isn’t coming off of his best season, though, importantly, he did pick up his play during their postseason run—which probably offsets the rest of his 2021.
Both Bates and the Bengals’ other starting safety, Vonn Bell, would be due to be unrestricted free agents next year. Even if they were to draft a safety later this month, they might still need to address the position again in 2023 if they don’t get Bates signed to a long-term deal.