Report: ‘There Isn’t A Lot Of Optimism’ About Long-Term Deal For Bengals’ Jessie Bates; Could No-Show To Training Camp

Jessie Bates is one of the better young safeties in the league, though, heading into his fifth season, perhaps he’s not so young anymore. And perhaps he’s not going to be a Cincinnati Bengal much longer. For the moment, he is slated to play the 2022 season under the franchise tag, and is doesn’t seem all that likely that a long-term deal will be reached before next week’s deadline.

Mike Garafolo reports that “there isn’t a lot of optimism the Bengals and Jessie Bates will bridge the gap between the tag ($12.9m) and the top of the safety market ($18m+) between now and next week’s deadline”.

Of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers just reset the safety market with their new extension last month with Minkah Fitzpatrick, a four-year deal averaging $18.25 million per season in new money. It is the largest contract for a safety in the history of the game.

Not only does Garafolo not see a deal getting done, he also questions how harmoniously this relationship can continue. He suggests that Bates may not even show up for training camp later this month absent a new contract—though perhaps he might do a hold-in, rather than a holdout, as T.J. Watt did last year.

Bates, 25, has played in and started 63 career games, missing the first two games of his career this past season. He has recorded 10 interceptions during his career with 35 passes defensed, in addition to more than 400 tackles. During the team’s four-game postseason run in 2021, he recorded 20 tackles with two interceptions and six passes defensed, with one of those picks coming in the Super Bowl.

But the Bengals also used their first-round draft pick this year on Daxton Hill, who is potentially the replacement for Bates in 2023, preparing for life without him. Their other starting safety, Vonn Bell, will also be a free agent next year, but he could be retained on a more moderate price tag.

The question is, where is Bates’ financial range, really? Obviously he’s not going to get a record-setting contract. At the moment, there are only four safeties on deals that pay $15 million per season or more, including Fitzpatrick, Jamal Adams ($17.5 million), Harrison Smith ($16 million), and Justin Simmons ($15.25 million).

There are another four safeties making $14 million per season or more, including Marcus Williams, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent earlier this offseason. This tier also includes Budda Baker, Eddie Jackson, and Kevin Byard.

Bates will be the top safety on the market in 2023, not including Derwin James, who will surely be retained by the Los Angeles Chargers, perhaps with an extension signed this offseason. Anybody looking for help at this position will have to be ready to throw cash at the Wake Forest product.

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