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Jessie Bates III on Cincinnati Bengals contract dispute: ‘I’m not sure why I’m not paid yet’

Jason Burgos

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III ended his hold out on Tuesday after months of being unwilling to play the season on a franchise tender. However, while he sees a lot of opportunity in building his value for free agency next year, he still doesn’t understand why the team did not give him the long-term contract he was hoping for.

Bates III is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract after being taken with the 54th pick overall in the 2018 NFL draft. In his four years with the organization has been a strong and consistent fixture in the team’s secondary. While he has yet to earn Pro Bowl honors, he is an anchor of the defense and racked up over 100 tackles in three seasons.

Related: Bengals star Jessie Bates III arrives at training camp, expected to end holdout

Unsurprisingly, since he is in the final year of his contract, has performed at a high level, and helped the team reach the Super Bowl earlier this year, the 25-year-old didn’t want to run the risk of a major injury in 2022 and play the season on a one-year $12.91 franchise tag. Unfortunately for him, Cincinnati is not ready to give him the long-term contract he desires, and were able to wait him out during the spring and summer.

Cincinnati Bengals Jessie Bates III: ‘This is an opportunity to prove I’m the best safety in this league’

cincinnati bengals, jessie bates
Credit: USA Today Network

Obviously, things did not go as hoped this offseason, but Bates III is now trying to find the positives in the risk of playing this season under a one-year franchise tag. In a Wednesday conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bates III explained how this season will be a showcase of his value to the Bengals and the rest of the NFL. But in the end, he still doesn’t understand why he and the team couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal.

  • Jessie Bates stats (2021): 88 tackles, 1 interception, 1 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery

“I don’t know. I don’t think that’s my question to answer. I think it’s a great opportunity to continue to present what I’m about to, who I am, to this franchise and other teams as well. So, like I said, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to prove that I’m one of the best safeties in this league. I’m not sure why I’m not paid yet.”

Cincinnati plays their final game of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 27, in a 6 PM ET matchup with the defending champion Los Angeles Rams.