Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates reported to the team’s facility on Tuesday morning, according to a source.
The Bengals announced Bates signed his franchise tag and he will be placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list. While on that list, Bates will have a roster exemption for up to two weeks, though he can be activated at any time.
Bates, 25, opted not to sign his franchise tag and report for the start of training camp on July 25 with the rest of his teammates due to failed contract negotiations with the franchise. The Bengals’ front office, ahead of training camp, said they expected Bates to play with the team this season despite his lack of desire to play on the franchise tag amount of nearly $13 million.
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The return of Bates ahead of Cincinnati’s practices against the Los Angeles Rams is significant as the two joint practices are being used as a dress rehearsal for the starters.
How the Cincinnati Bengals and Jessie Bates got to this point
The Bengals thought they gave their second-round pick a fair contract extension offer in the 2021 offseason. Bates, who fired his first agent and hired the highly touted David Mulugheta of Athletes First, to negotiate his second contract, turned the deal down.
Bates opted to participate in the team’s voluntary offseason program and all of the training camp despite not reaching a long-term deal with his team.
The 2021 season started slowly for Bates from a production standpoint. He admitted, towards the end of the season, the contract extension process impacted his play but caught his stride when it mattered most in the postseason.
“I feel like I’m at a better head space now than I was at the beginning of the season,” Bates said in November.
Bates was arguably Cincinnati’s best player on defense in the playoffs. In the four postseason games, Bates recorded 20 tackles and two interceptions.
Following the Super Bowl 56 loss the Los Angeles Rams, Bates spoke publicly about his displeasure to play the 2022 season on the franchise tag if the Bengals were to apply it on him.
After not being able to get an extension done in the weeks following, Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on Bates in early March in hopes to give themselves more time to work out a long-term deal and to prevent him from hitting the open market. The next important deadline in the process was July 15. NFL teams had until July 15 to sign their franchise tagged players to multiyear contracts. The Bengals tried again with Bates’ representation and their final offer was reportedly $4 million more than what he would make on the franchise tag, which is $12.9 million, bringing the total to $17 million.
Why the Jessie Bates, the Cincinnati Bengals stopped contract negotiations
By not being able to agree on a contract extension by the deadline, the Bengals and Bates were required to stop the negotiation process until after the 2022 regular season is over. Bengals owner Mike Brown spoke about the contract negotiation process with Bates describing it as a “puzzle” and saying sometimes the team is going to lose players they want to keep.
“It just doesn’t all fit perfectly,” Brown said at the Bengals’ media luncheon. “We’re going to have some pluses. We’re going to get some guys signed that are critical to the team. And we’re going to lose some guys.”
The Bengals have several young offensive players who have major contract extensions looming, including quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s front office set a number they were comfortable spending on Bates and he and his representation aren’t satisfied. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick reset the safety market this summer when he signed a four-year deal worth $73.6 million contract and $36 million guaranteed.
It was unlikely, based off Bates’ comments about not wanting to play on the tag, that he would show up for the start of training camp.
Bates opted not to report for training camp and trained on his own away from the team. He made a surprising appearance at Cincinnati’s first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals but didn’t return to practice the following week.
His return to the team’s facility is certainly a boost for the Bengals on the field and in the locker room as he is one of the most respected players on the team. Bates was a team captain for the Bengals in 2021. The Bengals begin joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday and will play their final preseason game on Saturday.