Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands Cincinnati Bengals franchise tag

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III will be under contract with the team for at least one more season.

Bates received the franchise tag designation before Tuesday’s deadline, the team announced Monday. Bates was set to become a free agent once his rookie contract expired at the end of the league year.

“For the past year, we have been trying to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “Although that hasn’t happened, we want him here for 2022 to be part of what we believe will be an exciting season of football and a bright future for our organisation.”

The deal secures Bates’ near-term future with the club that selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. According to Spotrac data, the tag is expected to be worth $13 million. At last week’s NFL scouting meeting in Indianapolis, Bengals manager Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy who’s developed and played well and has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, especially in leadership and playing,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want to move forward.”

The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal through July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multi-year contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until the end of the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years. In four playoff games, he deflected six passes, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, requested a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout campaign in 2020; however, these pre-season talks did not result in a new contract.

He started 15 games last season, making 88 tackles with one interception, four passes defended and one fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals in 2018, the former second-round pick has been one of the team’s most reliable starters. He appeared in 63 of the potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting them all.

A neck injury sustained in a Week 3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers ended Bates’ 51-game starting streak, the fifth-longest in franchise history.