CINCINNATI — Opposing ball carriers can thank the Cincinnati Bengals‘ front office if they get hit a little harder this year.
Safety Jessie Bates III said he plans on expressing his frustrations with the lack of a contract extension with his play on the field.
“I think I’m going to continue to show it with my play and be a little pissed off, for sure,” Bates said Monday.
The fourth-year safety had a team-high nine tackles in Cincy’s season-opening win over the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium. Bates’ biggest tackle came in overtime, when he made the initial hit on Vikings running back Dalvin Cook that eventually led to a forced fumble and ultimately a Cincinnati victory.
Bates, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, is currently in the final year of his rookie deal. The former Wake Forest standout said he wasn’t sure of contract negotiations are still ongoing.
On Aug. 10, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Bates and the Bengals weren’t progressing toward an extension.
Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard, a third-round pick in that year’s draft, signed a four-year extension worth $40 million. The day after the deal was announced, Hubbard wore a shirt representing Bates’ charitable foundation.
“I love supporting my teammates,” Hubbard said on July 28. “Jessie is a close friend and someone I want to play with for a long time.”
On Monday, Bates’ first news conference since July 29, the safety referenced Hubbard’s deal when he said he wished his contract situation was already wrapped up.
“I was hoping to be the next guy up,” Bates said. “But like I said, it is what it is. I’m going to play my part. I’m going to be a captain of this team and next year, we’ll see what happens.”
Bates will be eligible for the franchise tag in 2022, which will pay him a one-year salary that will rank among the highest among all safeties. However, the projected $13.5 million tender is $5.3 million lower than Broncos safety Justin Simmons‘ salary cap value for 2022, according to Roster Management System.
When asked if he wanted to be the highest-paid safety in the league, Bates declined to comment before he smiled, swiveled out of his chair and finished his news conference.