The deadline for Franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals with their teams passed on Friday. Jessie Bates III opted not to sign a new deal and as we all know, has no intent to player under the tag in Cincinnati. It feels like it’s only a matter of time until he’s traded, but are all signs pointing to Philadelphia?
Fitting the mold
This season was supposed to be a big one for Philadelphia and it turned out to instead be a period we could reflect on in years to come as franchise-defining. The Eagles went all-out on aggressively building the foundation for the next era of Philadelphia football.
Finding players to fit that mold wasn’t easy, but young players who are super athletic and have a very fiery mentality with a history of team-related accolades seem to check most boxes.
Bates is a rapid safety whose agility plays a big role in his success. His three-cone drill put him in the 84th percentile of NFL safeties, while his shuttles were equally impressive. The icing on the cake isn’t his eye-popping production, but his mentality to put a young Bengals defense on his back and become a leader on the back-end.
He spoke about his determination to make this leap prior to the 2021 campaign. Bates had proven his mettle in the three seasons prior and felt ready to help players in the same way vets once helped him.
“I feel like the years before I was kind of in the flow a little bit too much and kind of sitting back and letting other people make those decisions,” Bates says. “I’m excited for that role. I’m trying to be more vocal with the guys. To be the guy to come to. I feel like years before I was the guy going to the guy. I want to be the guy people come to.”Jessie Bates – Bengals.com
Considering that the Eagles lack real veteran leadership, with Anthony Harris being the oldest in the room and potentially on the way out after this year, there is a clear hole for Bates to step into.
Marcus Epps and Jaquiski Tartt are both in contract years as well, meaning that the only safeties who as of right now will be on the roster next year are K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere.
The Eagles need a cornerstone to build around and Bates ticks every box.
Oh, and just to make things even more spicy, Bates spent time with Eagles assistant Head Coach, Jemal Singleton, before Singleton made the leap to Philadelphia. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that the Eagles love some familiarity in their ranks.
Can the Eagles afford Jessie Bates?
First and foremost, let’s look at the ever-lucrative market of young NFL Safeties. There has been a real surge in recent years of young stars leaving the team that drafted them in a bid to secure the bag.
The Dolphins traded Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019 for one first-round pick and some change. The Jets traded Jamal Adams to the Seahawks in 2020 for a pair of first-round picks and some change.
The Eagles have more than enough Draft capital to snag Jessie Bates from Cincy. What’s really interesting is they could now essentially trade them someone like Tartt/Epps, someone who is a proven role player and would at least bridge the gap for the Bengals, knowing that Bates joins Harris and the other of the two that wasn’t traded in what then becomes a very strong secondary when you factor in the three Pro-Bowl level corners playing underneath.
Jessie Bates did have a quiet 2021 season by his own admission, but when the playoffs rolled around, he really turned it on. He knew he had to prove his worth to secure a contract, but that possibility has slowly dissolved, potentially lowering his value and making him affordable for the Eagles.
However, there is a wildcard. Jessie Bates switched agents not too long ago to the same man, David Mulugheta, who helped both Deshaun Watson and Jalen Ramsey find new homes. That last one is obviously very important, as Ramsey secured a $71M payday.
Budda Baker and Kevin Byard also signed big-time contracts under his guidance and in fact, both of those players rank inside the top 4 for average salaries at the position.
Trading for Bates is one thing, but they’d probably need to offer Bates a contract worth around $65M over 4 years (4th highest-paid safety in the NFL), with an average of $16.25M per year, before his now experienced counsel even thinks of putting pen to paper.
Will the Eagles trade for Jessie Bates?
Nobody really knows the answer. But if we look at this Eagles roster, there’s a long-term starter at each one with a lone exception – Safety.
We know that Howie Roseman likes to jump the market and may well see a lot of opportuntiy here if the Bengals would rather just rid themselves of a headache so that they can keep their mission to return to the Super Bowl in-tact. A package of a potential first/second round pick, and a player such as Marcus Epps could be more than enough to swing the pendulum their way, and they do have the capital to spread over a four-year investment.
The move is a no-brainer for Jessie Bates too. Not only does he get paid, but he joins a team trending heavily in the right direction and could be welll-poised to make a deep playoff run if the dominoes fall the right way. If they don’t then you’d like to hedge your bets on the run happening sooner rather than later.
Bates joins a competitive team, gets a healthy payday, and the Eagles complete one of the most brilliant offseasons in recent memory.
Who says no?
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire