Here's why the Bengals and Jessie Bates failed in contract negotiations

For the first time since the 2021 season, Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates took to the podium at Paycor Stadium.

Bates, who skipped the first few weeks of training camp due to failed contract negotiations, was asked point blank why, in over the course of two years, he and the Bengals have yet to be able to get a long-term extension done.

“I don’t know,” Bates said on Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s my question to answer. I think it’s a great opportunity to continue to present what I’m about to, who I am, to this franchise and other teams as well. So, like I said, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to prove that I’m one of the best safeties in this league. I’m not sure why I’m not paid yet.”The Bengals and Bates have been in negotiation process for some time now. Cincinnati’s front office feels like they’ve made a fair offer, twice, and Bates wants more than what the Bengals are offering.

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Each side has justified its reasoning for why a contract extension hasn’t been agreed on. The Bengals put a certain number on what they were willing to offer Bates, calculated specifically knowing they have a megadeal coming with their quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase down the line.

There’s only so much money to go around. As Bengals’ owner and team president Mike Brown said, it’s a puzzle, and sometimes it doesn’t always fit.

Bates, however, feels that he’s one of the top safeties in the league and wants to be paid as such. Despite not being at practice with his teammates all offseason and through the first few weeks of training camp, Bates says he’s in the best shape of his life and expects to play in the Week 1 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He kept his iPad from last season and watched every practice and every individual period the Bengals have done so far.

When asked if he’s looking at this year as his last with the Bengals, Bates opted not to say one way or the other. Due to the franchise tag rules, the Bengals and Bates can no longer negotiate while the season is underway. Contract talks can pick back up following the season, but for now, everything is tabled. This year will mark Bates' fifth in Cincinnati and he'll make nearly $13 million fully guaranteed after signing the franchise tag contract on Tuesday.

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“I think this is an opportunity for me to prove not to the Bengals but to the whole league, just like any other year,” Bates said. “I look at every single year as a contract year regardless. So my mindset has always been every year is a contract year. Whether it’s here, which I would love it to be, whether it’s somewhere else, I’m going to show who Jessie Bates is on and off the field.”

Jessie Bates was confident in Bengals locker room when he was away

Bates said he never worried if his stint away from the team would create division in the locker room. He’s one of the most respected players in the Bengals’ locker room and several players on Cincinnati’s roster have publicly backed Bates.

“I know what type of locker room we have here,” Bates said. “I never questioned being looked at differently while I was away. It’s a blessing to be here.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Why Jessie Bates contract negotiations with Cincinnati Bengals failed