By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Sometimes you swing and miss. Sometimes you swing and hit a home run. If anyone ever tells you they have the draft art down to a science, don’t believe them. They’re lying!
Wake Forest University has never been considered a football power in college football. Every once in a while the University will produce an NFL product, but not often. In 2018 the Bengals took a chance in the 2nd round on Jesse Bates III. It was one of those times the team hit a home run. Three years later, Bates is considered one of the top safeties in the NFL.
The former Wake Forest star had gotten better and better each year. In 2020, the league was put on notice. Bates was named 2nd team all pro. When you are on a team that averages 4-5 wins a season, not many players are going to get noted as being one of the best in the NFL. From his first season in the NFL Bates has been a starter. The Bengal all pro safety has averaged an amazing 74 tackles per season, while averaging three interceptions.
It’s not a total surprise that Bates has become a star in the NFL. The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native really only played two seasons at Wake Forest. He didn’t play as a true freshman. His only seasons were as redshirt freshman in 2016 and as a redshirt sophomore in 2017. In only 11 games the safety amassed an amazing 79 tackles. NFL scouts took notice and Bates was put on all 32 NFL teams radar.
Cincinnati has had some great safeties in their franchise history. Players like David Fulcher and Tommy Casanova are all time great Bengals. Bates has risen to the point where he can be mentioned with the likes of Fulcher and Casanova. Anytime you have a great player outplaying his initial contract you know what comes next. You guessed it. Money. In May of 2018 the Bengal safety signed his first pro contract for four years and $4.9 million. The contract included a $2.38 million guarantee with a signing bonus of $1.67 million.
The time has come around for Bates second contract. As he is now considered one of the top players at his position, he will be expected to be paid considerably more than the little over a million dollars a year he signed for in 2018 to keep him. Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks got a 4-year $70 million deal.
The question is, does Cincinnati value the safety position enough to pay Bates in that ballpark. While the question has come up of a new Bates contract, there has been no announcement of a signing. The Bengals are not exactly overrun with all pros. They have the chance to sign one they drafted to star in Cincy for a long time. At the end of the day, it’s like anything else that is of high value. If you don’t want to do it, somebody else will.