CINCINNATI — Bengals safety Jessie Bates is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 24-year-old would like to sign a long-term deal in Cincinnati, but one NFL insider doesn't think it's going to happen before the start of the regular season.
"The safety market is pretty clear–$14 million to $15 million per year gets you in the door–so if the Bengals offered more of a John Johnson III deal ($11 million per year), that's a nonstarter," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "I'd look for Bates to play out this year at a high level, forcing the team to apply the franchise tag or let him walk in free agency, where he would be greeted with a generous deal. Fellow safeties Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City) and Landon Collins (Washington) each hit the $14 million plateau in 2019 free agency. Bates would likely be able to surpass that."
Bates made it clear that initial contract negotiations haven't gone well.
"I guess I haven't done enough yet to be considered one of the top safeties in this league," Bates said earlier this month. "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."
Bates' comments fall in line with what Fowler has reported in recent weeks.
"A source said a deal is unlikely at this time," he wrote.
Finding a way to sign Bates before the start of the season makes sense for a Bengals team that's hoping to make a big jump this season. He's a young player that should be entering his prime and he's coming off of a breakout season.
These things can change quickly, but Bates and the Bengals are in a stare down with the start of the regular season less than three weeks away.
Read Fowler's entire article here.
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