NFL Rumors: Bengals All-Pro Looks Like Perfect Eagles Trade Target

Jessie Bates

Getty Cincinnati Bengals S Jessie Bates is refusing to sign or play on his one-year franchise tag.

The Philadelphia Eagles swung and missed at every safety they threw a dart at this offseason. They even failed to reel one in from the NFL draft pond, even after Kyle Hamilton slid down the board. But good things come to those who wait, right? And an All-Pro safety could be looking for a new home.

According to USA Today’s Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates has “no intentions” of playing under the franchise tag the team slapped on him earlier in the year. The one-year franchise tag would pay Bates $12.91 million for the 2022 campaign, but he wants no parts of it.

“It’s tough. You only get one shot at this,” Bates said, via Dragon. “You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say.”

The 25-year-old is seeking a long-term contract and doesn’t necessarily want to leave the defending AFC champions, although he sounds ready to make his point if the two sides can’t come together prior to the cut-off date on July 15. Bates has been skipping voluntary workouts at the Bengals’ practice facility so far this spring.

Bates, a second-round pick in 2018, started 15 games last season and made 88 tackles with one interception. The Wake Forest product has 408 tackles and 10 interceptions in 63 career games while earning second-team All-Pro honors in 2020. And he made arguably the biggest play of the 2021 AFC Championship Game when he tipped a Patrick Mahomes’ pass that turned into an interception. Nine plays later, the Bengals won the game in overtime.

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Eagles Offered $70 Million to Marcus Williams

According to reports, the Eagles made a “competitive offer” for free agent safety Marcus Williams before he inked a five-year, $70 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Williams is now the seventh-highest-paid safety in the NFL in terms of average annual salary at $14 million.

If Philadelphia was willing to go that high for Williams — a guy with zero Pro Bowl or All-Pro selections — then it stands to reason they would be all-in on Bates. The two players are the same age (25) and the same size (Williams is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds; Bates is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds). But Bates has 88 more tackles in 13 fewer games, plus he’s already been to a Super Bowl.

“I think as far as my contract goes,” Bates said last year at training camp, via NFL Media, “I guess I haven’t done enough yet to be considered one of the top safeties in this league, which is fine.”

Jamal Adams (Seattle) headlines the highest-paid safety list at $17.5 million per year, followed by Harrison Smith (Minnesota) at $16 million. You would have to figure that Bates wants something in the $15 million range.

Eagles Ready to Roll with Marcus Epps?

Meanwhile, the Eagles seem content to roll the dice at safety with Marcus Epps alongside Anthony Harris. They keep backing that starting tandem publicly, although no one in the organization would ever slam the door completely shut on adding more talent.

“There’s no doubt we sit up here knowing that we still have other things that we want to do going forward,” GM Howie Roseman told reporters after the 2022 draft, “that there are things that maybe, ideally, we wanted to do this weekend, but feel good about our process and feel good about the talent that we added.”

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