Cincinnati Bengals Safety Ends Absence

The Cincinnati Bengals have one of their star players back in the fold. Safety Jessie Bates III returned to team facilities earlier this morning, per Cincinnati Bengals beat reporter Kelsey Conway for

Bates had been absent from team activities this offseason due to his unhappiness over the prospect of playing out the year under the franchise tag. Having failed to negotiate an extension before the July 15th deadline, Bates is no longer eligible for a new contract this year. If he intends to play, as his presence suggests, he will need to sign the one-year, $12.9 million tender. After that, he'll have the next two weeks to ramp up and get ready for the regular season.

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Bates has been a reliable presence for the Bengals ever since being taken 54th overall in the 2018 NFL draft, starting 63 of a possible 65 games. With only 10 interceptions to his name and no Pro Bowl appearances, he has yet to achieve true star status in this league and has vacillated from elite to below average across his four seasons according to Pro Football Focus's grades. He had likely been hoping to sign a multi-year contract in the range of Los Angles's Chargers safety Derwin James's recent five-year, $76 million deal. James was drafted the same year as Bates and was signed to the mammoth extension despite missing 29 games across his first four years.

The Bengals held fast, and it appears they'll get what they want. The franchise tag will keep Bates under team control at a bargain rate that falls below the yearly average of the top 10 safety contracts in the league, and he'll have every motivation to play his best and increase his value for when he reaches free agency next year. Assuming the Bengals don't tag him again, of course.

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