We are less than a week away from the deadline for franchise-tagged players to reach a long-term deal with their respective clubs. If there is no deal by 1 p.m. ET on Friday, July 15, the two sides will no longer be able to negotiate and the player will play the 2022 season under the tag. One of the more intriguing franchise tag situations in the NFL as we approach this deadline resides in Cincinnati between the Bengals and safety Jessie Bates III.
The NFL Network reports that the two sides reaching an extension before the July 15 deadline seems bleak. If that does come to fruition, the report also notes that it could result in Bates not attending the start of Bengals training camp on July 26.
Bates has yet to sign his franchise tag that would pay him $12.9 million in 2022 fully guaranteed. While that’s a significant raise from the $2.43 million he earned in 2021 as he helped Cincy to a Super Bowl appearance, it’s still not up to par for the going rate of today’s elite safeties.
For example, Minkah Fitzpatrick just signed an extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers that makes him the highest-paid safety in the league with an average annual salary of $18.4 million. That is likely the new bar that Bates’ camp is eyeing, given his success thus far in his career. However, the NFL Network reports that it is unlikely the Bengals venture into contract talks of that magnitude with Bates.
The 25-year-old has been public all offseason about not wanting to be tagged leading up to that deadline, and more recent reports have noted that he has no intention of playing under the franchise tag in 2022. Given the Bengals’ reported stance of not entering negotiations that would put Bates among the highest-paid players at his position, it would appear like the two sides are at a standstill.
If they do go through this deadline without a deal, it’ll be curious to see Bates’ next phase of action and whether or not he asks out of Cincinnati. The Bengals do have an in-house replacement if Bates departs either before the 2022 season or next offseason after drafting safety Daxton Hill at the bottom of the first round this past April, so the club may already be bracing for his exit in some form or fashion.