Jessie Bates is back in Cincinnati.
The star safety returned to the Bengals' building Tuesday and will sign his franchise tag, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the situation. The team later confirmed Bates signed the tender and will be placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list, which allows the safety to have a roster exemption for up to two weeks.
Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the news.
Cincinnati preps to host the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams for joint practices this week ahead of Saturday's preseason finale.
Bates had skipped the entire offseason and the bulk of training camp after sides failed to agree to a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. The 25-year-old had not signed his tender and thus wasn't subject to fines for missing camp.
The safety is due $12.91 million on the franchise tag in 2022.
With Cincy drafting Daxton Hill in the first round and Bates and the Bengals reportedly oceans apart in negotiations, it feels likely that the safety will play out a final year in Cincy before leaving in free agency next March.
Throughout the process, it was unclear when Bates -- who detested the franchise tag from the start -- would return to the Bengals. He could have skipped the beginning of the season and returned in time to ensure his contract didn't toll. That would have cost him money. Now Bates will report with plenty of time before the start of the season.
With 19 days until the Bengals kick off the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bates will have time to ramp up. With the Rams in town for joint practices before the preseason finale, don't expect the stud safety to do a ton this week as the Bengals get him back up to speed, but it's got to feel good for the staff to have Bates back in the building.
Bates reporting and signing his tender is the first step in sides putting an awkward offseason in the past and working on returning to the Super Bowl. Bates was a key reason for Cincy's postseason success, and getting him back in the building will only make the rest of the D better as we gear up for another campaign.
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