Jessie Bates has no leverage in contract dispute with Bengals


Cincinnati Bengals fans resonate with shockwaves over news that star safety Jessie Bates refuses to play under the franchise label. Faced with the unsavory prospect of being without their defensive mainstay for the 2022 season, what should the Bengals do?

It’s simple: dig in your heels and wait.

Bates has no leverage here – None. And there are substantial penalties for him if he continues to pout and refuses to play under the label, earning him a top-10 salary at the position this year. If he signs the tender for the franchise, he will earn an estimated $12.9 million this year, according to Spotrac. Not a bad raise for a guy who made under $3 million last season.

Would any of you complain if your employer offered you a 425% raise next year for doing the exact same job? That’s basically what Bates does. He’s refusing to play – refusing to do the exact same job he did last year – for a raise of more than 425%.

It’s not the free market. He can’t quit his job and go somewhere else (not in the NFL, at least). If he wants to play football, he will play for Cincinnati. If he doesn’t want to play under the label, he won’t earn any salary in 2022. If he’s faced with the prospect of earning nearly $13 million or earning nothing, that’s a pretty easy decision – You take the $13 million.

Loss of salary wouldn’t be the only penalty Bates would face. There are other good reasons to believe that he will not act on this resistance.

If Bates sits out the season, he will not accrue a season toward free agency. In other words, he won’t be any closer to free agency this time next year than he is right now because the Bengals might just tag him again.

To accumulate a season, Bates must play at least six regular season games this season. If a player is absent, he does not accumulate a season. It’s so simple.

Additionally, according to the NFL, if a player “offers his services for a ‘material period,’ he also risks not accumulating a season.” So basically, if Bates holds out, not only does he lose his salary, but he also risks losing his right to become a free agent next year. It’s a bad bet.

The recent history of other people making the same decision is not pretty…

In a career that has a finite lifespan, every year of earning potential is essential. Ask Le’Veon Bell. He is the most recent example of a player who lasted a whole season.

In 2017, Bell was arguably the best running back in football. He played in 15 games, rushing for nearly 1,300 yards from scrimmage, catching 85 passes for 655 yards, and scoring 11 total touchdowns. He was a stud, but the Steelers couldn’t make a long-term deal with him and they slapped the franchise tag on him before the 2018 season.

Bell refused to perform under the tag, forfeiting the $14.5 million salary he would have earned. The Steelers opted out of tagging him the following year, and Bell hit the open market. He landed what was reported as a 4-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets, but ultimately only received $28 million over two-season stretches before being released.

It was never able to recoup the $14.5 million he would have earned from the Steelers in 2018. In hindsight, it was an inexcusable and financially illiterate move. Sure, people often make decisions “by principle” — usually code for making a decision based on emotion rather than logic — but in Bell’s case, principle cost him nearly $15 million. .

Jessie Bates is ready to make the same mistake.

Either way, he’s getting a big payday in 2023; It is a given. No matter what contract he eventually signs, he can never get his 2022 season back, nor the 2022 salary he will lose by refusing to blink first.

Would the Bengals be better if they had Bates in 2022?


When he’s at the top of his game (think last year’s playoffs, not last year’s regular season), he strongly claims the best safety in the NFL.

But, do the Bengals need Bates in 2022?

After Daxton Hill’s shrewd draft in the first round of this year’s draft, the answer is a resounding Nope. Hill was clearly drafted as the heir apparent to security. With Bates’ resistance, it seems the future is now. The Bengals have planned ahead and are ready to move forward without him.

Frankly, the Bengals have little incentive to give in to Bates’ petulant demands. Of course, they could try to exchange it, but why? Why give in? They spent considerable resources writing and developing it.

Under the ABC, they are entitled to his job this year, if he decides to play. Giving in at this point would set a bad precedent, as it would signal to future players that Bates’ tactic will be rewarded with a raise or a trade. It just creates more headaches down the road.

Mike Brown should dig his heels in on this one with a simple message: “Jessie, we love you, and we want you to play in Cincinnati. But if you don’t play here, you won’t play. »

Take the money, Jessie. Sign the RFP. Don’t miss a Super Bowl ring this year for a few dollars. It’s not worth the shot.


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