May 19, 2022
Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have their CB2 in place after signing James Bradberry to a one-year deal, could safety be next? One player who could become available via trade is Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates.
Bates is a good, young, All-Pro (2020) safety with 408 tackles and 10 INTs in his first four seasons in the NFL. He was also a stud in the playoffs last season, as he racked up 6 pass breakups and 2 INTs (including one in the Super Bowl) in four games. The Bengals franchise tagged him this offseason at $12,911,000.
So why would the Bengals trade a guy like that? According to a number of reports (I don't know who was first, so apologies to that person), Bates was one of two players to skip a voluntary Bengals camp, and he does not intend on playing under the franchise tag in 2022.
As you're aware, the Bengals played in the Super Bowl last season, however they also carry the reputation of being notoriously cheap.
Storytime with T.J. Houshmandzadeh about the early years with the Bengals: No bottled water or Gatorade, jockstrap issues and showing up to home games straight from the club pic.twitter.com/nvSX7STorM— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) July 9, 2018
In case you hadn't noticed, the Eagles' safeties aren't exactly world beaters. The projected starters are Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps, who are certainly roster-worthy players who know Jonathan Gannon's defense, but they are also realistically a below average starting tandem. Bates would instantly give the Eagles a legitimate playmaking centerfielder on the back end of their defense.
It's worth noting that the Eagles were interested in spending valuable financial resources on an upgrade at safety this offseason. They tried to sign Marcus Williams, who landed in Baltimore. They also had interest in Justin Reid, who signed in Kansas City while the Eagles were still hot on Williams' trail. And more recently, they reportedly discussed a trade for the Ravens' Chuck Clark.
So, there are three questions that would need to be addressed here:
The answer to question No. 1 is yes, they can. To begin, the Eagles would almost certainly want to have a new contract worked out with Bates beforehand. You can bet that any such new contract would have a very low cap number on the first year of a new deal.
The Eagles currently have about $10.8 million in cap space, per the NFLPA's daily report. Bradberry's new deal will likely eat up a small chunk of that, as there's little doubt he'll have a small 2022 cap number with some void years on the back end.
The Eagles would need to have at least $12,911,000 to cover Bates' franchise tag number just to bring him in before they could execute a new contract. Clearing, ohhhh, let's say $4 million, just to bring Bates aboard, wouldn't be much of a challenge for Howie Roseman's salary cap gymnastics.
As for question No. 2, the Bengals would no doubt point to the recent deals that were struck for safeties like Jamal Adams and Minkah Fitzpatrick, both of which included first-round picks. The Eagles would argue that Bates isn't on the same level as those two players, and that they also weren't threatening to sit out the season if they didn't get a contract they found favorable.
Would a second-round pick and, saaayyyy, a versatile starting guard in Isaac Seumalo appease Cincinnati? I think that's a deal the Eagles would do. They likely would not part with either of their 2023 first-round picks, which are clearly earmarked for quarterback insurance in case Jalen Hurts doesn't make substantial improvements in 2022.
As for the money, Marcus Williams is a player whose game is similar to Bates', so his five-year, $70 million deal with the Ravens feels like the floor. Because Bates is already pretty much guaranteed just under $13 million on the franchise tag, the Eagles would have to beat that. A new deal worth an average annual value of around $15 million would feel about right. And again, I would expect any new deal to have a low 2022 cap number.
So in summary, to answer the question in the headline, yeah, the Eagles should have interest in trading for Jessie Bates.
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