Longtime NFL safety Jessie Bates has signed his franchise tag. Bates has spent the entirety of his career thus far with the team that drafted him, the Cincinnati Bengals. This comes after months of failed contract extension talks. Bates joined the team on the 23rd, just before the team’s combined week of practice with the Los Angeles Rams. Bates will be paid $12.9 Million under the franchise tag.
#Bengals star safety Jessie Bates has now officially signed his franchise tag.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 23, 2022
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Jessie Bates Signs Franchise Tag, Ending Holdout
With the 54th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Bengals took Jessie Bates, the safety out of Wake Forest.
As a rookie, Bates took over as the starting free safety for the Bengals and immediately made an impact. On the year, Bates played all 16 games and tallied up a career-best 111 tackles which led the team. Additionally, the rookie pulled down three interceptions and defended seven more. One of those interceptions was returned for a 21-yard touchdown in a 37-34 win over Tampa Bay. His play earned him NFL All-Rookie team honors. Bates finished with a 79.9 PFF grade.
In his second year in 2019, Bates continued his top-level safety play for his Bengals. He finished the year with 100 tackles and three interceptions. His nine passes defended led the team and he added a forced fumble and fumble recovery. In terms of PFF grades, Bates took a step back and finished with a 61.2. Despite this, he was always a bright spot on an otherwise rough team to watch. Cincinnati went on to finish the season 2-14 and secured the first-overall pick.
Perhaps the shift in strategy by the Bengals front office lit a fire under Bates because he played his best football in year three. Bates finished with 109 tackles, two for loss, three interceptions, a forced fumble, and a career-best 15 passes defended. Through three seasons, Bates had yet to miss a single game of football. He earned a career-best 90.1 PFF grade and was in the conversation for best in the league at his position. Even though he was on a 4-11-1 team, Bates earned second-team All-Pro honors. The two sides worked to get an extension done at this point but were unable to come to an agreement at the time.
2021 came both the best and worst version of Bates. During the regular season, Bates finally missed time. He sat out of the Week 4 win over Jacksonville with an injury and sat alongside the other starters for the Week 18 bout with Cleveland. Bates posted career-lows in tackles (88), interceptions (one), and passes defended (four). He did flip the switch for playoffs and was a massive reason Cincinnati made their Super Bowl LVI run.
In the playoffs, Bates had a pair of crucial interceptions. The first was in the Divisional Round against Tennesee where he intercepted Ryan Tannehill on the first play of the game. In the Super Bowl, Bates intercepted a bomb thrown by Matthew Stafford intended for Van Jefferson in the endzone, keeping the deficit at 13-10.
#Bengals fans, he’s back🚨🚨
Jessie Bates III has signed his franchise tag! pic.twitter.com/gpnCuGC5yI
— TWSN (@TWSN___) August 23, 2022
Prior to the 2022 season, Cincinnati elected to use the Franchise Tag on Bates and drafted Dax Hill out of Michigan. Now that he’s officially signed the tag, the Bengals secondary could be one of the strengths of the team. Between Vonn Bell, Jessie Bates, and Dax Hill, Cincinnati is set at safety…for now. Whether or not Bates signs a new contract following the 2022 season is another question.