The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off their most successful season in recent memory, but are now at a crossroads with one of the more important figures that had them playing for a Super Bowl in 2021. The club placed the franchise tag on Jessie Bates in March, but the veteran safety has yet to sign the one-year contract and it doesn't appear like he'll be doing so anytime soon. Bates has no intentions of playing the 2022 season under the franchise tag, according to USA TODAY Sports+.
Bates has expressed an interest in a long-term deal to remain in Cincinnati, but negotiations have stalled, per the report. The 25-year-old is also not expected to attend OTAs or training camp until a multiyear deal is reached. Because he has not signed the offer sheet on his franchise tag, Bates is not subject to fines.
Prior to getting tagged by the Bengals, Bates did publicly say in February that he was against the tag.
"Hopefully, I'm not under a franchise tag," he told the NFL Network at the time. "That's something that needs to be discussed as NFLPA a little bit. Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag. It's tough; you only get one shot at this. You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say."
More recently, fellow Bengals defensive back Mike Hilton has lobbied for Bates to receive an extension.
"Yeah, we've been talking all offseason," Hilton said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. "Everybody in that locker room wants Jessie to get what he deserves. We know as a team, he's a cornerstone piece for this franchise."
Bates has spent his entire NFL career with the Bengals after the club selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest. Over his tenure, he's been one of the more productive safeties in the league and was a second-team All-Pro in 2020. Last year, he totaled 88 tackles, had four pass breakups and one interception through 15 regular-season games. In the postseason, Bates registered 20 tackles, six pass breakups, and two interceptions, one of which came in Super Bowl LVI against Matthew Stafford and the Rams.
Under the tag, Bates would be slated to make just under $13 million fully guaranteed for the 2022 season. While that is a sizable amount of money, the long-term security of a multiyear deal is just as desirable. That's also not mentioning that Bates could very well reset the market at his position with his next deal. According to Spotrac's market value projections, Bates could earn a five-year, $74.36 million contract. That would make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL in terms of total cash and his $14.8 million in projected AAV would make him the fourth-highest paid safety.