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The Bengals Don't Have Any Margin for Error When it Comes to Jessie Bates' Future

The star safety and the Bengals are far apart in their contract negotiations.

CINCINNATI — Jessie Bates wants to stay in Cincinnati long-term. He also wants to be paid like one of the best safeties in the NFL. 

Bates confirmed his love for the town and the Bengals organization on July 29. 

"I'm super eager to get a deal done. Obviously, I want to be here," Bates said. "I think my mom's a little bit more eager, just because she wants to know whether she's gonna move to Cincinnati maybe. So, you know, that's ongoing talk that I'm very excited about. "

His tone changed on Thursday, just 14 days after he could barely contain his excitement about a potential extension. 

"I guess I haven't done enough yet to be considered one of the top safeties in this league," Bates said bluntly. "I think this will probably be my last time that I speak on the contract just because I think it can get a little messy as far as thinking about it too much." 

No one except Bates, his agent David Mulugheta and the Bengals know exactly what happened during negotiations. Bates clearly feels like they low-balled him, but the organization does promote him like he's one of the best safeties in the NFL. 

A quick social media search is all the ammo Mulugheta needs to show the Bengals why his client should be one of the highest-paid players at his position. 

Bates is everywhere. He's on the Bengals Instagram and Twitter. He was one of the players featured during the uniform reveal. He was on a postcard that fans received at training camp earlier this week.

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Bates has gone from an unknown second-round rookie to arguably the best player on the team. He's not going to settle for a below-market deal. 

The team is promoting him like he's the NFL's best safety, but they're unwilling to pay him accordingly? 

I don't buy it. They might be stubborn right now, but that's going to change. The Bengals don't really have a choice. They're going to pay Bates. It may be this offseason, but they could wait until next offseason. 

Why do the Bengals have to pay him? 

Because if they don't, it's going to send an awful message to the locker room. 

The 24-year-old is a leader. His teammates believe he's the best safety on the planet. Not signing him would send a ripple effect across a locker room that is full of young players.

Guys like Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase and Jonah Williams are going to look at Bates and think, "he did everything right and he still didn't get paid?"

It's also going to leave a bad impression on Joe Burrow. 

Does anyone think the star quarterback would be happy if Bates wasn't in Cincinnati long-term? 

After years of getting it wrong in the draft, the Bengals finally got it right with Bates. A deal has to get done at some point. It doesn't have to be this offseason, but letting Bates walk in free agency isn't an option. Not when you have a marketing team promoting him like the top safety in the game and a young core watching every move you make. 

Negotiations are normal and it may take a year, but it would be shocking if the Bengals don't keep Bates in town long-term. 

For more on the situation, watch my conversation with Tony Pike below.

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