The Bengals want to show that their 2021 success was more than a flash in the pan and having safety Jessie Bates on the field would be a good step toward doing that, but he isn’t around at the moment.
Bates got the franchise tag earlier this year and has neither signed it nor agreed to a long-term deal, so he is following in the footsteps of others in the same position by staying away from the team’s offseason workouts. Cornerback Mike Hilton said on Tuesday that the Bengals players are eager to have Bates back, but that they understand that the business side of things has to work itself out.
“Yeah, we’ve been talking all offseason,” Hilton said, via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Everybody in that locker room wants Jessie to get what he deserves. We know as a team, he’s a cornerstone piece for this franchise. On my end, I’m going to do what I can do to keep pushing and keep putting it out there for him to sign long term. If it happens, great. But also, everybody knows the business side of the NFL. And nobody would be upset or pissed at him if he didn’t show up or he ended up going somewhere else. It’s just part of the game. But he knows that everybody in this locker room wants him here.”
Bates and the Bengals have until July 15 to work out a longer deal. If they don’t, he’ll be in line to make $12.911 million under the terms of the tag.