The Cincinnati Bengals and star security Jessie Bates III are at an deadlock. 4 months after inserting the franchise tag on the playoff hero, the Bengals have but to get a signature on the contract. As coaching camp approaches, Bates, 25, isn’t anticipated to reach anytime quickly, and he can sit out with out punishment till the season begins. Even then, he can take his time to make some extent, whereas shedding worth from the tag.
And therein lies the issue for Bates and the Bengals. Whereas the franchise holds many of the playing cards proper now, Bates is probably going making an attempt to drive their hand right into a commerce. Cincinnati, who has a protracted historical past of proving their level by not flinching in these kinds of conditions, might finally relent and attempt to commerce Bates. However a deal of that magnitude might show to be tough to drag off.
Kaye’s Take: Why a Jessie Bates III commerce is more durable to drag off than it appears
This week, the franchise-tag contract extension deadline handed, that means that Bates can solely play on a one-year deal this season. Whereas the Bengals or a group buying him can rework his franchise tag — price $12.9 million — into a special one-year deal, he can’t obtain a multi-year contract till the conclusion of the 2022 season.
The mechanism of the contract extension deadline is used to drive a long-term deal or decision of the scenario forward of coaching camp. Effectively, Bates hasn’t signed, so there’s no decision as of now. And Bates’ worth is in an ungainly spot on the commerce market in consequence.
Bates is a top-tier security and is price top-tier compensation. However, with a one-year deal caught in stone, his commerce outlook isn’t very easy to determine.
Sometimes, groups need to signal a participant to an extension after they commerce a premium asset for them. Because of the handed deadline, that perform isn’t attainable with Bates. So, a group is actually buying and selling an asset for a participant who could possibly be one and accomplished. Positive, the buying group might use the franchise tag as safety subsequent yr, however that’s not an excellent scenario — from a cap or relationship perspective.
How does Bates’ scenario evaluate to Jadeveon Clowney’s in 2019?
Bates is coming off a powerful playoff run with the Bengals, as he was arguably a top-three participant for Cincinnati throughout their run to the Tremendous Bowl. He has additionally been a stellar performer within the common season, posting 10 career interceptions and 35 cross breakups over 4 seasons. So, the Bengals shouldn’t take simply something for Bates in a commerce.
Bates’ scenario is similar to Jadeveon Clowney’s deal in 2019. The Houston Texans positioned the tag on Clowney in March, and he held out till late August — proper earlier than the beginning of the season. Clowney was then traded to the Seattle Seahawks for 2 gamers and a third-round choose.
For the reason that contract extension deadline handed, Clowney needed to play on a one-year deal. As a part of the commerce, the Seahawks agreed to not franchise tag him the next offseason. That call proved to be unlucky for the Seahawks, who have been left within the lurch by Clowney. He signed with the Tennessee Titans in September 2020, which really prevented Seattle from receiving a compensatory choose for his departure.
Clowney was thought-about a top-tier cross rusher, which is a place that — for probably the most half — has extra worth in league circles than security. Clowney solely fetched a third-round choose and a pair of defensive position gamers, so it’s not just like the Bengals can count on heavy compensation for Bates. For a franchise that’s identified for standing agency, does it actually make sense to only give into Bates’ “holdout” from the tag for minimal features?
From the alternative facet, the buying group additionally must be conscious that buying and selling a notable asset for Bates, after which probably inserting the tag on him subsequent yr, will give the security immense leverage.
Groups don’t hand over premium property for one-year leases, particularly when the participant is ascending in his mid-20s. Bates and his agent know that. If Bates wished a market-setting deal this offseason, he’s more likely to solely improve his calls for subsequent yr, as a result of a basic supervisor buying him would look fairly silly if he let this example play out the identical means below his watch.
Bates would maintain extra leverage on a brand new group
Bates doesn’t have a complete lot of leverage in Cincinnati. He can signal the tag, or he can maintain his pen capped. These are actually his solely two choices. He can hope the Bengals say “sufficient” and commerce him, however that’s out of his management, as is the Bengals’ want to remodel a one-year deal to his liking.
If the Bengals have been to commerce Bates, he’d get loads of leverage again, not for this yr however the subsequent. He might additionally drive the buying group to remodel his one-year deal, probably avoiding the tag altogether in future years.
Whether or not the one-year deal will get reworked or not, an buying group would in all probability desire to supply a conditional package deal to the Bengals based mostly on Bates’ future endeavors. A typical suggestion is to have a conditional choose be linked to Bates’ future contract. As an example, buying and selling a conditional third-round choose that would turn out to be a second-rounder if Bates indicators a contract extension by April.
The problem with that kind of deal is that the Bengals might watch Bates hit the free agent market if he doesn’t like his subsequent group’s affords. He might additionally get tagged and maintain out on signing a brand new deal by means of the summer season, primarily stopping the Bengals from the higher compensation. Why would the Bengals comply with such a deal?
Cincinnati probably solely prepared to commerce Bates for heavy return
In principle, the conditional choose could possibly be earmarked for 2024 to keep away from such time-related pitfalls. However why would Cincinnati wait that lengthy for a return on a top-tier expertise that they have already got management over? A extra interesting possibility could be to remodel Bates’ one-year deal, let him hit free company in 2023, after which obtain a comp choose in 2024, even when it’s rather less beneficial.
So, an buying group must discover a means — by means of participant or draft compensation — to appease the Bengals, with out setting the squad as much as have egg on its face subsequent yr. That kind of negotiation could possibly be mind-numbingly unfruitful. Positive, Bates is a top-tier expertise, however he performs a place that’s decrease on the worth scale than EDGE or cornerback. He’s additionally locked right into a short-term contract that would finally spurn whoever is buying him.
A commerce for Bates isn’t not possible, however the traditionally cussed Bengals aren’t more likely to relent for something lower than a powerful return for him. And based mostly on Bates’ contract scenario, that package deal could be more durable to come back by than most mission.