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Jessie Bates wants nothing to do with a franchise tag.
The Cincinnati Bengals safety isn’t expected to attend OTAs or training camp this offseason, and he’s yet to sign the franchise tag the Bengals tried to place on him in March.
As of now, according to USA Today’s Tyler Dragon, Bates has no intentions of playing this season under the franchise tag.
"That's a conversation I think that we'll have with my agency and my team," Bates told the NFL Network about the franchise tag in February. "I put a lot of trust in them with this whole process. I'm just trying to stay focused, control what I can. We'll see. Hopefully I'm not under a franchise tag. That's something that needs to be discussed as NFLPA a little bit. Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag. It's tough; you only get one shot at this. You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say."
Bates had 88 total tackles and one interception last season, both of which were down significantly after he posted three straight seasons with at least 100 tackles and three interceptions. Bates did, though, have 20 total tackles in the postseason and had two interceptions, including one during their Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The 25-year-old, who Cincinnati took with the No. 54 overall pick out of Wake Forest in 2018, would earn $12.9 million next season under the franchise tag.
There is still a few months before training camp starts, so the two sides have time to agree to a new deal that keeps Bates with the Bengals this fall. The Bengals, however, appear to have covered his position well during the draft — as they took Michigan safety Daxton Hill and Nebraska defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt in the first two rounds last month.
Though those two likely wouldn’t be able to replace Bates immediately, it does give the Bengals plenty of options if they can’t reach a deal with Bates in time for the start of the season.