Bengals: Jessie Bates contract talks could get nasty in 2022

Kristen Wong
Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates got slapped with the franchise tag a week ago, placing him under contract for the 2022 season. But could Bates and the Bengals finalize a long-term deal by July?

Given what we know of the contract negotiation talks so far, it’s not likely. On the franchise tag, Bates will earn roughly $13 million this year, but Bates, as with most elite players of his caliber, will want to secure a more lucrative, longer-term contract for the future.

Easier said than done, despite many Cincy players clamoring for Bates’ extension this year.

John Sheeran of Cincy Jungle spoke a bit about what it would take for the Bengals and Bates to agree on a multi-year deal this offseason.

"Jessie Bates knows what other safeties are making. His agent knows what other safeties are making. And if Jessie Bates wants a contract that puts him up with the top safeties in the league, it’s not a contract the Bengals are prepared to give him."

Sheeran notes that Bates’ agent also represents Rams’ Jalen Ramsey, which suggests Bates is extremely well-versed in the NFL financial landscape for safeties. Bates knows his worth, but what Cincinnati thinks Bates is worth is a different story altogether.

Cincinnati Bengals and Jessie Bates may not see eye-to-eye on contract negotiations in 2022

In the 2021 season, Bates served as a dependable member in the backfield, recording 88 combined tackles, four passes defended, and one interception in 15 games. He showed his true value in the playoffs when he nabbed two crucial picks against the Titans and Rams, not to mention the ball he tipped against the Chiefs that was intercepted by Vonn Bell.

Though Bates clearly has earned a starting role on the Bengals and is arguably the team’s most talented defender, the Bengals seem reluctant to offer him a top dollar, long-term contract. Part of the reason may be injury concerns, but Bates has played 15 games or more in every season in the league.

When it comes to finalizing a contract by July, who may give in first? Sheeran believes it won’t be Cincinnati.

"I don’t think Jessie Bates is the player to make them change how they structure contracts and how they want to distribute guaranteed money, because it’s only in the signing bonus. And Jessie Bates rightfully wants more than that. And that’s why we have this stalemate that will last until July 15. And maybe that’s when the deal will come. Maybe Bates will say, ‘You know what, I’ll just take the Bengals’ deal.’"

If no deal is finalized, Bates will play under the franchise tag for the 2022 season and make decent money without the long-term security. This would satisfy the Bengals and keep the team’s secondary elite for at least one more year, but failure to reach a mutually agreed upon extension could sour Bates’ future in Cincinnati.

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Hopefully, Jessie Bates stays in Cincinnati for many seasons ahead, but that could require the Bengals to set a new precedent for how much they pay their safeties. Given each party’s self-interests, we don’t put much faith in Bates securing a contract extension before the 2022 season.