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Three Players The Cincinnati Bengals Need To Extend
Even though the Bengals are coming off of another fourth-place finish in the AFC North, there are a number of players in the team’s long-term plans. Most of them, like Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, are under contract for several more years. However, a few are in need of new contracts soon.
Here are three Bengals who need to get extended heading into the 2021 season.
1. FS Jessie Bates III
There weren’t many standouts on Cincinnati’s below-average defense last season. However, the most impressive player on the unit was Bates, the team’s second-round pick in 2018.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bates was the number one safety in the NFL in 2020. The 24-year old registered 15 combined pass breakups and interceptions, more than any other safety in the league. He has been as consistent as they come over the last three years, never missing a game and registering three interceptions and at least 70 solo tackles in every season.
Based on his performance, particularly last season, Bates is likely to command a deal similar to Justin Simmons, who Denver re-signed at $15.2 million per year to make him the highest-paid safety in the league. However, with a solid amount of cap space and a rebuilding defense that needs an anchor, re-signing Bates before he hits free agency after the season is a no-brainer.
2. MLB Germaine Pratt
When Pratt was drafted in the third round in 2019, he was slotted behind veteran Preston Brown and viewed as a jack-of-all-trades linebacker. However, he managed to work his way into the starting lineup his rookie year before starting in 15 of Cincinnati’s 16 games in 2020.
Now heading into the fall, the 25-year old Pratt is viewed as one of the team’s most consistent defenders and a centerpiece of their linebacking core. Pratt managed five tackles for loss last year in addition to a pair of passes defended, all while registering 89 combined tackles.
Pratt still has two years of control at just around $1.2 million per year. However, another good season from him in 2021 should prompt the Bengals to consider an offseason extension.
3. C Trey Hopkins
The Bengals drafted Ohio State’s Billy Price a few years ago in the hopes that he would be the center of the future. However, it has been the veteran Hopkins who has shown that he is the player the Bengals should trust with snapping the ball to Burrow.
Hopkins was undrafted in 2014, joining the Bengals and spending his first couple seasons on the practice squad. He then joined the starting lineup in 2017, mostly at right guard before switching to center. Eventually, he became the starting center on a permanent basis, starting all but one game over the last two seasons.
The Bengals rewarded Hopkins with a three-year extension back in 2019, which keeps him under contract through the 2022 season. However, with Price likely gone after the season and no other replacement options, Cincinnati should approach him about re-working his deal to keep him under contract another year or two more.
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