Tagged in: Cincinnati Bengals

Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah appears to have sprained MCL, coach Zac Taylor says

The Bengals have received a glimmer of good news regarding one of their core players.

The initial tests on C.J. Uzomah’s knee injury were labeled “encouraging” by coach Zac Taylor on Monday after the tight end left Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Taylor said Uzomah appears to have suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee.

“I don’t know anything further at this point but it seems to be encouraging initially,” Taylor said. The seventh-year player out of Auburn went down in the first quarter after he leaped to catch a pass from quarterback Joe Burrow that went incomplete. Uzomah hobbled off the field before he eventually was taken via medical cart to the locker room.

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Uzomah returned to the sideline later in the game and was seen wearing a protective brace on his left leg during the postgame celebrations.

“I had to be out there for those guys,” Uzomah told the team’s website. “I wouldn’t have missed that.”

The veteran tight end told the team’s website that he thinks there’s a chance he could play in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 versus the Los Angeles Rams.

In a tweet after the win, Uzomah thanked fans for their prayers and said he was “focused on getting right” for Cincinnati’s game against the Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

After coming back from an Achilles injury that ended his 2020 season in Week 2, Uzomah has been an instrumental part of Cincinnati’s offense that has helped the team make its first Super Bowl appearance since 1989.

In this year’s playoff run, he has 13 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown.

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Lions C Frank Ragnow has season-ending toe injury

The Detroit Lions continue to suffer a rash of injuries, with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow now set to undergo season-ending toe surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network was first to report that Ragnow met with Dr. Robert Anderson to get confirmation on the best course of action to treat the injury.

Ragnow was already on the injured reserve list for what Lions coach Dan Campbell described as a “version of turf toe.”

He suffered the injury during the first half of Detroit’s Week 4 loss at Chicago. The team also lost outside linebacker Romeo Okwara to a season-ending Achilles injury in that same match.

Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl berth last campaign and became the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.

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The winless Lions have suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on last-second field goals while being hit with an onslaught of injuries. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus (collarbone), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion) and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) and Jeff Okudah (Achilles) among others, are all on the injured reserve list.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end Jared Pinkney.

Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch versus the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell stated the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

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Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow on track to return for Week 1, Dr. Neal ElAttrache says

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who underwent reconstructive left knee surgery in December, is “all systems go” for the Sept. 12 regular-season opener versus the Minnesota Vikings, according to Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe in Los Angeles.

“He’s on track for full go for start of the season,” ElAttrache, who operated on Burrow in December, wrote in a text. “He’s doing all the work. He’s worked his tail off and been an amazingly mature participant in his recovery. He’s focused and great to work with.”

Burrow had told “The Cris Collinsworth Podcast” that he expected to be there for the first snap in 2021. But now ElAttrache is working with the Bengals’ medical staff on Burrow’s rehabilitation, and they consider that goal is well within reach.

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Doctors do not want any contact until nine months, which could lead to Burrow sitting out the preseason.

But the goal, now well within reach, is to be ready for the start of the regular campaign.

“We are very happy with his recovery to say the least,” ElAttrache said. “Notwithstanding the nature of his injury and extent of his reconstruction, his knee is performing perfectly.

“We just had him tested out here with a high-tech video and biomechanical evaluation and he was ahead of where we anticipated and well into the return to performance phase of his recovery. With him already performing this way, it’s ‘all systems go’ for the start of the season.”

Burrow suffered the injury during a Nov. 22 loss at Washington. He then underwent surgery Dec. 2. Before the injury, Burrow had validated his draft selection as the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, starting 10 games and completing 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

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Cincinnati Bengals release RB Giovani Bernard after eight seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals have released veteran running back Giovani Bernard, the team revealed on Wednesday.

Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 matches and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary-cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money versus the cap, according to Roster Management System.

Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 because Joe Mixon was out with a foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first triumph over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.

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The Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015.

The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

With his ability in the passing game and reliability as a runner in a committee, Bernard shouldn’t have difficulty landing a new gig. A club looking for a third-down back could find a bargain in the 29-year-old Bernard, who still has tread left on the tires.

Bernard is also one of the best pass-protecting backs in the entire NFL, a trait that many teams covet in their backup RBs. Cutting Bernard now makes running back depth a need for the Bengals. Joe Mixon remains one of the top-flight backs in the NFL, with game-breaking ability. 

Samaje Perine impressed coaches for stretches last season and should climb the depth chart. A pass-catching back is now a need for the Bengals, which could look to the draft to fill the new void.

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New York Giants to re-sign franchised Leonard Williams to three-year, $63 million deal

The New York Giants and twice-franchised defensive lineman Leonard Williams reached agreement on a three-year, $63 million deal that incorporates $45 million fully guaranteed on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams before the March 9 deadline, the second consecutive year that Williams was tagged. He was scheduled to make $19.4 million for the 2021 season on the franchise tender without an extension, which the two sides had until July 15 to agree upon.

The Giants entered the negotiating period approximately $4 million under the salary cap. Their flexibility to make moves was going to be contingent on striking a long-term deal with Williams.

The first-year cap hit in this deal is expected to land in the $11 million range, a source told ESPN. That provides the Giants an additional $8 million in cap space in addition to a restructuring of the contract for veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder.

The Giants immediately went to work with the newfound flexibility and agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million with $1 million guaranteed for former Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick John Ross, according to a source.

He provides the Giants with some much-needed speed and depth for a thin wide receiving corps.

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Williams is coming off a career-best campaign in which he ended with 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits, good for third in the NFL. His 41 quarterback pressures was seventh among interior defensive linemen, according to NFL NextGen Stats data.

It was quite the turnaround for the 2015 first-round pick of the New York Jets in his first full season with the Giants. He thrived under coach Joe Judge and in the defensive system of coordinator Patrick Graham.

Williams, 26, was credited with half a sack the previous season, which he split between the Giants and the Jets. It was the latest in an unspectacular first five seasons in the NFL after being the sixth overall selection out of USC.

Regardless, the Giants traded a pair of middle-rounds draft picks for Williams midway through the 2019 season, just months before he was set to become a free agent. They placed the franchise tag on him last offseason, and he played on the one-year deal worth $16.126 million.

With his first double-digit sack season, Williams proved he was worth that and much more as one of the NFL’s most productive defensive linemen. His previous high for sacks in a season was seven in 2016.

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Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow done for the season

The nightmare for Cincinnati happened on a Sunday afternoon in Maryland. 

Quarterback Joe Burrow injured his left knee in the third quarter of the Cincinnati Bengals’ game when he was hit in the pocket shortly after releasing a pass to wideout Tyler Boyd.

Burrow was on the ground writhing in pain as the Bengals medical staff immediately rushed to the field. A few moments later, Burrow was helped up and was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he was placed a cart. The entire Bengals team gathered around Burrow to show their support before Burrow exited the field on the cart.

The Bengals formally declared Burrow out minutes later. Second-year quarterback Ryan Finley substituted Burrow under center — and he will presumably conclude the year as the team’s starter. 

The initial diagnosis is Burrow suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. NFL Network first reported the news at the conclusion of the 20-9 loss. 

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Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley:5 things to know about Joe Burrow’s replacement

Burrow finished the contest 22-of-34 passing for 203 yards and one touchdown pass.

The Bengals were ahead 9-7 when Burrow left the game with a little under 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter. His injury was the turning point in the game. 

“That’s an injury to a team leader that can take the wind out of your sails,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said postgame. 

The rookie quarterback’s left knee injury was a debilitating blow for the Bengals, and they never recovered. Washington scored 13 unanswered points following Burrow’s injury.

Burrow was one of the most hit quarterbacks in all of football entering Week 11. The rookie QB was sacked 32 times in 10 matches, that’s the third most in the NFL.

“I hope he recovers soon because he’s a hell of a player and it’s been a lot of fun watching him play this first half of the season, so excited for when he’s back,” Finley said postgame. “I think he’s a competitor. I think he’s going to be one of those guys that will be back before he’s supposed to, whenever that is.”

Unfortunately for the entire Bengals organization, Burrow’s rookie season is presumably done. He’ll won’t be back on the field until the 2021 campaign. 

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Cincinnati Bengals trade Carlos Dunlap to Seattle Seahawks

Veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap has been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, it was revealed Wednesday.

The Seahawks’ defense has permitted the most yards of any team through six games in NFL history, and their pass rush has been a primary issue. The unit has only nine sacks through six games and didn’t even register an official hit on Kyler Murray during an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night.

Due to having to go through COVID-19 protocols, the earliest Dunlap could make his Seahawks debut is Week 9 at Buffalo.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous as hell but I’m excited,” Dunlap said on Instagram story about joining the Seahawks. “… It’s all up from here. It’s all up from here. Let’s go. I get to play. Above all, I get to play.”

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The trade ends a Cincinnati saga that spiraled past its breaking point Wednesday, when the Bengals asked Dunlap not to come to the team’s facilities as they sought a trading partner, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini, confirming a report by NFL Network.

Dunlap, 31, had two years left on a contract extension that was set to expire at the end of the 2021 campaign.

However, the likelihood of Dunlap finishing his career in Cincinnati diminished after the events of recent weeks.

The 2010 second-round draft pick had grown increasingly frustrated with his role in the Bengals’ defense and had come off the bench in the past three matches.

At the end of the team’s 37-34 loss to the visiting Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dunlap went after defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo regarding his playcalling, according to a source.

The defensive end also posted a property listing minutes after the loss on social media in posts that were later deleted.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor called a news conference Wednesday evening after the trade became official.

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Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has torn ACL in left knee

Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is officially over.

The Cleveland Browns revealed the star wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Beckham underwent an MRI on Monday morning, which confirmed the tear.

He was injured on the Browns’ second snap Sunday while attempting to chase down a Cincinnati Bengals defender following a Baker Mayfield interception.

“Obviously it’s a big loss,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski stated Monday. “He’s a huge part of what we do. So now we’ll just have to huddle up, and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. “You never replace a player of Odell’s caliber with one player. It’s going to take multiple guys,” Stefanski added. “That’s the challenge we have and I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”

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On Mayfield’s first passing attempt versus the Bengals, he tried to force a throw to Beckham down the sideline.

The ball, however, was underthrown and picked off by Darius Phillips. Beckham turned around to chase the Cincinnati defensive back the other way, but crashed into Phillips and Cleveland fullback Andy Janovich, who also was trying to make the tackle.

After going 0-of-5 in the first quarter, Mayfield bounced back without Beckham to complete a franchise-record 21 consecutive passes and five touchdowns, including a game-winning, 24-yard scoring strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left.

Afterward, Mayfield confessed to feeling guilty for the underthrow that led to Beckham’s injury.

“I’m probably going to beat myself up about that one for a long time,” Mayfield said. “He’s a guy who fights for this team, and in doing that, he got hurt. … it sucks.”

Mayfield stated that at halftime Beckham told him to “go be great” in the second half. Mayfield went on to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw three go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter in Cleveland’s 37-34 victory.

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Dallas Goedert has small ankle fracture

Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert has a small fracture in his ankle, a league source confirmed.

He is out indefinitely, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, stripping quarterback Carson Wentz of yet another weapon.

Goedert limped off the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals following a short completion and did not return. He entered Week 3 as the team leader in targets, catches, receiving yards and yards after the catch. The offense evidently missed him the rest of the way versus Cincinnati, as Wentz managed just 225 passing yards on 47 attempts (4.8 average).

Drafted in the second round in 2018 out of South Dakota State, the 25-year-old managed to collect 91 catches for 941 yards and nine touchdowns through two seasons in the league, even though he competed with Pro Bowler Zach Ertz for touches from quarterback Carson Wentz.

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“Losing a guy like Dallas that has a huge role in protections [and the] run game, but he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and down the field. He’s a big part of our game plan every week, and so losing him, we obviously had to make some adjustments on the fly, [which] makes it tough,” coach Doug Pederson stated.

The Eagles also lost DeSean Jackson to a hamstring injury Sunday. He is considered day-to-day, and the team is positive he’ll be able to play Sunday night at the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pederson.

Rookie receiver Jalen Reagor, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a UCL tear in his thumb. Philadelphia could get some relief in the form of Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc), who is expected to ramp up his participation in practice this week in hopes of returning sometime in the near future.

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