Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow wants everyone to know he’s healthy as an ox after OTAs, but he also wanted to back teammate Jessie Bates amid Bates’ ongoing contract stalemate.
On Tuesday, Burrow told reporters that he feels completely “normal” and hasn’t encountered any setbacks in his recovery from his minor knee injury. Rather than make the press conference all about his own health, though, Burrow changed the subject to speak out on Jessie Bates’ contract saga and what Bates adds to the team in 2022.
Cincinnati slapped Bates with a franchise tag back in March, which amounts to roughly a $13 million dollar salary this season. Yet Bates has been adamant that he doesn’t want to play under a franchise tag and is hoping to complete a long-term deal by the July 15th deadline.
Amid the tense contract negotiations, Burrow made his opinions known about the issue, publicly supporting his teammate and insinuating that he wants Bates to get what he deserves:
Bengals’ Joe Burrow takes a side on the Jessie Bates contract dilemma in 2022
If Burrow is the team’s de facto leader of the offense, a case could be made for Bates being the leader of the defense.
The star safety has started nearly every game for the Bengals for the past four seasons, tallying up ten interceptions and ranking as the best safety in the league in 2021 with a 91.3 Pro Football Focus grade. His value and role in Cincy’s defense is undisputed, but contrary to what Burrow said, the Bengals can and have put a price tag on Bates heading into the 2022 season.
The holdup for Bates’ contract extension likely stems from a difference of opinion: Bates wants the bag. The Bengals don’t want to give it to him.
In the 2021 offseason, the market for safeties dramatically changed when the Denver Broncos made Justin Simmons the league’s highest-paid safety at $15.25 million per year. The Seattle Seahawks then reset the market by paying Jamal Adams an average of $17.4 million per year, so it appears that Bates would want to command a similar contract in that range.
While Bates doesn’t seem the type to hold out into the season until he gets paid, the ongoing controversy doesn’t bode well for team morale in 2022.
Burrow naturally wants to see his teammate get his due, but this situation is out of his hands.
For now, all Burrow and the Bengals can do is get ready for a tough season ahead and hope the rest of the pieces fall into place.