Jessie Bates reported to the Cincinnati Bengals today, according to a report by Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The 2020 All-Pro safety was holding out of training camp in an effort to secure a new long-term contract. Thus far, Bates has been unable to negotiate his way into a better deal. Cincinnati—coming off a Super Bowl Appearance last season—placed the franchise tag on their star defensive back in March.
Without a deal in place, and with the regular season approaching, Bates decided to end his holdout and rejoin the team.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bates is set to sign the franchise tag, which will earn the former second-round pick $12.91 million this season. Bates has not participated in any team activities thus far in camp but now has over two weeks to prepare for the Bengals’ Week 1 matchup with their divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals used their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to select safety Dax Hill from the University of Michigan. Hill was First-team All-Big 10 in his final season with the Wolverines, and there was speculation that he could serve as a long-term replacement for Bates.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Bates struggled struggled last season. Among NFL safeties in 2021, Jessie Bates ranked 74th in Total Points with 10. His teammate Vonn Bell had nearly 4 times as many Total Points (39). Bates had a QBR Against of 132.1, ranking 110th out of 120 safeties with at least 5 targets. In the same group of 120 safeties, Bates ranked 119th in EPA with 19.42.
As he enters a second consecutive contract year, Bates will look to regain the form that earned him accolades and praise in the past.
The 33rd Team’s Head of Scouting, TJ McCreight, for one, had positives to highlight about Bates’ game.
“What stood out to me since he was at Wake Forest was his instincts,” McCreight said. “He has such a great feel for routes and where the ball is. That is why he always seems to be around the football. Then you add in his physical ability and toughness and you end up with a very complete player.”
With expectations for the Bengals offense set high, a solid defensive showing could help keep team Zac Taylor’s squad in contention.