AFC Notes: Jessie Bates, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals EVP Katie Blackburn provided an update on the state of contract talks with S Jessie Bates, who was franchise tagged earlier this offseason. The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal. 

“There hasn’t been a lot to report on since we put the tag on him,” she said via the Athletic’s Jay Morrison. “We obviously tried to get him re-signed last year. Thought we had a good chance of getting that done but it didn’t quite get there. I think they wanted to see where the market went in free agency. At some point, we’ll circle back with him and see where we are. But obviously, we love Jessie as a player. And if there’s a way we could get something worked out, that would be great.”

Bates was admittedly not happy the team didn’t meet his asking price and instead had him play out his contract year, so it’s safe to assume he’s not thrilled about the tag. If he skips OTAs to signal his displeasure, Blackburn said it won’t affect talks from the team standpoint. 

“I don’t know if ‘hinder’ is the right word,” she said. “That’s Jessie’s choice to handle that however he chooses to handle that. But I think we’ll have a good enough relationship. I can’t speak to what he thinks is the right thing to do there, but like I said, at the end of the day, I hope that he’s playing for the Bengals this year and is a great contributor to the team.”


  • When speaking with a group of reporters, Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti indicated that the organization is interested in extending Lamar Jacksonwho is representing himself as his own agent, “when he’s ready” to get a deal done: “We’ll pay him when he’s ready.” (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • Bisciotti added that the organization believes in Jackson: “Without a QB you believe in, life (stinks) as an NFL owner and as a fan base. … We appreciate (Lamar). All I know is that his teammates love him and the front office loves him.” (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • As for the possibility of Jackson not signing an extension this year, Bisciotti said that they are waiting on the quarterback to pick up negotiations: “Unless he has a change of heart and calls Eric and says I’m ready. But it’s like, Eric can’t keep calling him and say, ‘Hey Lamar, you really need to get in here and get this thing done.”
  • Regarding Jackson’s lack of urgency to finalize an extension, Bisciotti thinks the quarterback still wants to prove he’s worthy of a lucrative extension: “It’s unique as hell … The kid is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, that I think deep down, he doesn’t think he’s worthy. I think he wants that to say, ‘Now, I deserve to be on top’.” (Jamison Hensley)
  • Bisciotti responded to the Browns’ fully guaranteed $230 million contract for Deshaun Watson: “It’s like, ‘Damn, I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract.’ I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract.” (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • Bisciotti reiterated that Watson’s deal makes negotiating difficult for the rest of the league: “To me, that’s something that is groundbreaking, and it’ll make negotiations harder with others. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to play that game, you know? We shall see.” (Jeff Zrebiec)


  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly says he would be shocked if the Steelers didn’t add a strong safety before the draft.
  • Steelers HC Mike Tomlin was about the decision to re-sign OT Chukwuma Okorafor: “He is youthful and experienced and that’s what is exciting. He is a guy who has been a multiple-year starter for us yet is only 24 years old. It is reasonable to expect him to continue to grow and get better.” (Kaboly)
  • Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder had all 32 teams at his pro day and had dinner with Tomlin. One pro-scout believes Ridder has a ton of potential: “Elite athlete who moves really well, but he’s good in the pocket and essentially ran an NFL offense. … So much to work with there.” (Jordan Schultz)
  • Steelers CB Ahkello Witherspoon re-signed for two years at $8 million with a $2.965 million signing bonus, and salaries of $1.035 million and $4 million. (Aaron Wilson)
  • Aaron Wilson reports that the Cardinals worked out South Dakota State QB Chris Oladokun privately in Tampa, Florida. Wilson adds that Oladokun is rising quickly and has already met with the Steelers and the Bears. 

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