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Jessie Bates
NFL

What’s Fair Contract Value For Jessie Bates?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 17, 2022
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According to reports, Cincinnati Bengals superstar safety Jessie Bates III has no intention of playing the 2022 season under the franchise tag. Bengals General Manager Duke Tobin placed the tag on Bates in early March and the two sides have yet to agree to terms on a multi-year contract extension. Bates has yet to officially sign the one-year contract. 

Tobin and Bates’ representation have until mid-July to reach an extension before Bates is essentially locked into that one-year deal that would pay him a fully guaranteed $12.911 million, per Spotrac. Bates appears disinterested in this potential outcome and may hold out from summer duties until a more suitable solution is reached. 

As both parties continue discussing the details of a long-term marriage, a four-year contract worth $72 million with $42 million in guarantees would represent a fair agreement. Bates would earn $18 million annually on such a contract, making him the highest-paid safety in the league, both on a per-year basis and in total contract value. Bates undeniably wants to at least slightly top the four-year, $70 million contract signed by Jamal Adams in August of last year.

Bates originally entered the league as a second-round selection out of Wake Forest in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native has thus far experienced an excellent four-year professional career while totaling 408 total tackles, 35 pass breakups, and 10 interceptions in 63 career appearances. Bates played an excellent brand of football throughout the 2021 campaign, one that eventually powered Cincinnati’s defense forward during the postseason by accounting for two interceptions throughout Cincinnati’s miraculous and unsuspecting run to Super Bowl LVI.

The Bengals appear primed to make another run at the Lombardi in 2022. A young roster that is blossoming with talent remains in win-now mode with a thriving Joe Burrow under center (and on an affordable rookie contract). For as excellent as Cincinnati’s offensive supporting cast is, their recent postseason success was largely a result of a dominant, in-form defense. The Bengals allowed a stingy 20.5 points per contest throughout four playoff games, forced a staggering nine turnovers, and recorded 10 sacks. Bates’ free-roaming abilities played a large role in Cincinnati’s wherewithal to limit their opponents offensively. 

Tobin and the Bengals are likely weighing the long-term ramifications of awarding Bates with such a lucrative contract. Burrow is entering the third season of his four-year rookie contract, and although the Bengals control the contract through a fifth-year option that will undoubtedly be triggered, it won’t be long before Burrow and his representation are commanding roughly $50 million on a per annual basis, which is more or less in line with what Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Josh Allen currently earn. Tee Higgins and even Ja’Marr Chase represent a pair of other talents that surely remain in Cincinnati’s long-term plans, and they too will demand sizable raises in pay compared to what they currently earn. The Bengals are planning for the future in that regard, and it does add a layer of complication to the Bates situation.

Tobin and the Bengals have some figuring out to do. They are unlikely to retain all of their superstar players for the foreseeable future. Budgeting appropriately is an unfortunate side effect of building a high-quality roster, especially one with an elite quarterback. As Cincinnati continues to sort through the future of their contract situations, they mustn’t neglect the opportunity to retain their superstar safety. Talks between the two sides should continue to progress into early July, leading them to the cusp of training camp. Keeping Bates is the smart decision.

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Justin Melo