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Jessie Bates won’t play under franchise tag for Cincinnati Bengals, 3 trades that make sense

Andrew Buller-Russ
Jessie Bates
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Set to become a free agent this past offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals made sure to place the franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III. This meant that the Bengals and only the Bengals would have the chance at negotiating a long-term contract with the 25-year-old defender.

Yet, here we are two months later and Bates has yet to actually sign the franchise tender for $12.9 million.

Until he signs, Bates technically isn’t under contract, meaning he won’t participate in offseason training activities or training camp once it opens up later this summer.

For Bates, that’s perfectly fine, as he has no plans to play under the one-year tag, and will not even be in attendance for any of the team’s offseason training activities according to Tyler Dragon of USA Today. Instead, Bates wants a long-term contract, giving him more financial security.

Here were Bates’ thoughts on the matter, dating back to February, before the tag was placed on him.

“That’s a conversation I think that we’ll have with my agency and my team, I put a lot of trust in them with this whole process. I’m just trying to stay focused, control what I can. We’ll see. Hopefully I’m not under a franchise tag. That’s something that needs to be discussed as NFLPA a little bit. Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag. It’s tough; you only get one shot at this. You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say.”

Jessie Bates on not wanting to be franchise tagged

The team has since drafted safety Daxton Hill with the 31st pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as Tycen Anderson in the fifth round. While they may prefer not to trade Bates, it’s possible they can’t see eye-to-eye on his player value either, which could prompt a trade.

Here are three of the best fits for a Jessie Bates trade in 2022.

Philadelphia Eagles add another piece to the secondary

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles were a strong bet to swing for the fences, completing a blockbuster trade. They did just that by acquiring A.J. Brown, but it’s possible general manager Howie Roseman isn’t done adding to a playoff roster from a year ago.

In coach Jonathan Gannon’s first year in Philly, the defense stepped up, thanks to strong play from Darius Slay, among others. They’ve added reinforcements to keep building the offense, but the back end of the defense has largely gone untouched this offseason.

One way to add a playmaker in the secondary is by swinging a trade for Jessie Bates from the Bengals. While the Bengals, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to reach a contract extension with Bates, it’s possible the Eagles are more ready to pounce. Also benefiting from having Jalen Hurts on a rookie contract, the experienced Roseman might see more value in paying Bates near top-dollar.

Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings: Outlooks for top 20 defenses after NFL Draft

Washington Commanders call on Bates

Ron Rivera is very much known as a defensive specialist, yet the Washington Commanders, with all their top draft picks in recent years, have been anything but special when it comes to playing D. They were particularly bad at stopping the pass, allowing the most passing touchdowns in the NFL a year ago.

One way to offset this weakness is by improving their safety play, which Bates would immediately do.

  • Jessie Bates stats: 88 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PD, 1 FR

It’s true, Bates isn’t elite in coverage, with Pro Football Focus giving him a 53.4 coverage grade, but the physically imposing defender makes up for his pitfalls by being a solid all-around player. Bates is among the hardest-hitting safeties around, has a high football IQ, and is a team captain with the Bengals, who just reached the Super Bowl.

He’d be a great addition to just about every roster out there.

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings: New York Jets climb, Patriots and Bears fall after NFL Draft

Jacksonville Jaguars jump on Jessie Bates

The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t shy about spending money to improve their roster on both sides of the ball this offseason. As Doug Pederson takes over a team that’s earned the top pick in each of the past two drafts, there’s an expectation for the team to see immediate results.

Now no one is anticipating a Super Bowl run out of Trevor Lawrence in his second season, but getting out of the doldrums where they see strong growth has to be a top priority.

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They didn’t do much of anything right in Duval last season, and while we’ve seen roster improvements since, the secondary still needs some work. Trading for Bates may cost their second-round pick next year while having to sign him to an extension, but it’s a price the Jaguars shouldn’t be afraid to pay.

Bates would instantly become a leader in the secondary, adding an intimidating presence to the back end while Josh Allen and Travon Walker wreak havoc in the trenches. It’d be a fun defense to see in action.

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