Cincinnati Bengals star safety Jessie Bates III returned to the team facility Tuesday after missing training camp and signed his franchise tender, the team announced.
Bates was unable to reach a long-term extension this offseason with the Bengals, who placed the $12.911 million franchise tag on the fifth-year safety in March.
Bates, 25, played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years. In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one pick in the Bengals’ 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI. He started 15 games last season, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.
Contract negotiations between Bates and the Bengals have stalled each of the past two years. The Bengals have repeatedly stated that they want to secure Bates to a long-term deal, but Cincinnati has several young stars in line for lucrative contracts over the next few years, including franchise quarterback Joe Burrow and receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
Bengals team president Mike Brown said last month that the situation is “a puzzle” and that “it just doesn’t all fit perfectly.”
“We’re going to have some pluses,” Brown said during the Bengals’ annual media luncheon. “We’re going to get some guys signed that are critical to the team, and we’re going to lose some guys.”
ESPN’s Ben Baby contributed to this report.