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Cincinnati Bengals Should Extend Jessie Bates Before the Season

Jessie Bates III is unquestionably the best player on the Cincinnati Bengals defense. He is a rising star in the NFL and, at 24 years old, could be in line for a huge payday. Bates is set to become a free agent after the 2021 season. A Jessie Bates contract extension should be a priority for the Bengals, before the season begins to negate any distractions throughout the year.

Justin Simmons became the highest-paid safety in the NFL this offseason, at $15.25 million per year. This will lead to Bates commanding an extension around $14 million per year. The Bengals have plenty of cap room to get this deal done, and locking down one of their leaders for the foreseeable future would be a wise decision.

If the Jessie Bates contract extension looms over the front office for training camp and does not get completed before the season, they could be in trouble. This young team and coaching staff cannot afford to have any distractions this year. There is an expectation to win now and Zac Taylor should not have to field questions regarding Bates contract all season long.

jessie bates contract cincinnati bengals nfl
Credit: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Jessie Bates Ascension

Bates has yet to miss a single game in his three-year career. He was named a starter from day one and has shown drastic improvement every season. His passes defensed have gone from seven, to nine, to a league-leading 15 for safeties in 2020.

He has recorded nine interceptions, grabbing three each season. Bates did this while also racking up 320 total tackles, surpassing 100 every season. As a free safety, he has shown excellent tackling ability. He is the epitome of what every organization is looking for in a safety, and his leadership qualities are setting him apart from other young safeties around the league.  

Bates recorded the highest overall PFF grade among safeties last season, at 90.1. He was named second team All Pro after his stellar 2020 campaign. If the defense surrounding him was as elite as him, he would be in the discussion for the best safety in the NFL.

He could be on track for an even better season in 2021, due to his steady improvement. If he proves to be arguably the best safety in football next year, then his asking price will increase even more. This could lead to the Cincinnati Bengals potentially losing him, if they don’t feel comfortable giving him close to $16 million per year.

The Bengals could save millions of dollars if they complete the extension before the season. It would also show him how much the front office values him as a core piece of this franchise. This will only help the front office in keeping their own players long term because it shows a commitment to winning, regardless of cost.

Does Bates Want to Remain a Bengal?

According to all of the reports from the Bengals and comments from Jessie Bates, it seems he wants to be a Bengal long term. He is adamant on winning games, and if the team can show real improvement, then he will not be going anywhere.

The defense should take a massive leap this year with all of the new pieces they added. D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes will be fully healthy and should feel more comfortable in the Bengals system after battling injuries last season. Trey Hendrickson should help the secondary immensely with his knack for getting to the quarterback. Vonn Bell and Bates will be going into their second season starting alongside each other at safety, and they should have much better chemistry.

The Bengals are on track to win more games this season, and Bates should be excited about the future in Cincinnati. Everyone involved wants to keep him in town, and they need to put pen to paper before the season begins. It is likely the extension gets done right before training camp, or even at the beginning of training camp. The Bengals can report to camp on July 27, so an extension could happen within a week or two.

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