Mike Brown on Jessie Bates: Not easy to fit all the contracts under the cap

Safety Jessie Bates didn’t land a contract extension with the Bengals after being franchise tagged early in the offseason and that could make the 2022 season his final one as a member of the AFC North team.

Bates hasn’t signed his tag yet and isn’t expected to report to training camp with the rest of the team this week, but Bengals owner Mike Browns said on Monday that he expects Bates to play with the team this year. Brown also said that hopes that things work out in a way that Bates remains with the team in 2023 and beyond.

“He fits with us,” Brown said, via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We were two years trying to extend him. We weren’t able to get there. I regret that we didn’t. We will have another chance at the end of the season.”

That chance will be impacted by the need for the Bengals to plan for extensions for other members of the roster. Quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are on that list, which led Brown to say on Monday that it’s “not easy to fit all these” deals under the cap as the team moves forward.

The Bengals will have to find a way to hold onto a fair number of those star players or their run to Super Bowl LVI will look like an outlier in the franchise’s history.