Some might call it a step in the wrong direction or a step backward. Others might refer to it as growing pains for an up-and-coming squad that is capable of remaining among the AFC's elite for a while. The Cincinnati Bengals' plans of returning to football's biggest game and erasing the memories of Super Bowl 56's loss were halted by the same team they vanquished to get to the grand stage in Los Angeles one year prior. Curse those wretched Kansas City Chiefs.
Many of the offseason's subplots resemble what we discussed last March. The climb begins again. This team's window to win the franchise's first Vince Lombardi Trophy is still open. There are also long-term decisions to make.
When will a new well-deserved deal be hammered out for Joe Burrow? What should be done about the 19 impending free agents? And, while we're on the subject, what about an extension for Jessie Bates? Though we don't know the answers, we found a little more clarity on the Bates dilemma.
Bengals news: Jessie Bates expected to avoid another franchise tag per report.
A recent write-up by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano gave us some insight into what the Bengals might be thinking about Bates' long-term future. This one can be found on the ESPN+ platform and sits behind a paywall, so we won't share extensive quotes. Here's what we can share however.
Fowler is being told that, while Cincinnati is focused on keeping some of their best players in-house (like Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Von Bell), Bates isn't expected to be given another franchise tag. With that being said, one of the NFL's best safeties may hit the open market while no decision has been made about what to do about Joe Mixon, a star in his own right at the tailback position
More Bengals news: Tee Higgins feels the love at a Bearcats home game.
The Bengals aren't the only game in town, but no one has to tell the aforementioned Tee Higgins that. Recently, he enjoyed some rest and relaxation as he took in a Cincinnati Bearcats basketball game
As the old saying goes, 'game recognizes game'. It isn't quite the same roar that we hear in The Jungle, Paycor Stadium. There are obviously fewer bodies, but it's good to see the young man having some fun.