Bengals sign Hubbard to extension; look to do the same with Bates

Credit: Rob Carr

Credit: Rob Carr

CINCINNATI -- Defensive end Sam Hubbard signed a four-year contract extension, and now the Cincinnati Bengals are hoping to get something similar done for safety Jessie Bates.

The Bengals traditionally have gotten deals done for the drafted players they want to reward prior to or early in training camp ahead of the final season on their original contracts. Hubbard, a third-round pick in 2018, was extended to a deal reportedly worth $40 million.

Bates, a second-round draft pick in 2018, appears to be next in line for a big pay day.

“We’re always trying to get guys extended, and we’d like to make more hay there as we go here,” Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said. “Maybe something can come together with Jessie. It was great to get Sam on board. Katie (Blackburn) did a great job with that contract and getting it done. And, he’s the type of guy that we’d like to have, that we’d like to reward. I think it resonates well in the locker room. What he’s done is his show versatility, durability, production, effort, leadership, and I could say all the same things about Jessie..”

Tobin said he couldn’t characterize the negotiations with Bates because Blackburn – the daughter of Mike Brown -- is handling that, but noted “hopefully something can come together.”

Hubbard, an Ohio State University product and Cincinnati native, has played in 44 career games with 28 starts and has 16.5 sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown. He has been the Bengals’ full-time starting right defensive end since 2019, and his 16.5 career sacks are third-most among all players from the 2018 draft class.

“We couldn’t be happier as an organization,” Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. “The guy is the ultimate pro, does everything you want, does it the right way, and oh, by the way, he’s a really good football player. He sets a great example for guys and as an organization you can see it sets the tone for other players, ‘Hey if you do things the right way and produce and you’re a consistent player you’re going to get rewarded at some point.”

Bates was graded by as the top safety in the league last year and he’s also taken on more leadership responsibilities going into Year 4, while serving as a player rep for the team. He had three interceptions in each of his first three seasons and finished the 2020 campaign with 109 tackles, two tackles for loss and was consistent in both coverage and run defense.

Tobin said other than extensions, the next task is adding to the bottom of the roster. Any other additions at this point, with the roster currently at 86 going into the start of training camp Wednesday, would be competing for practice squad roles or backup spots.

Burrow cleared for football activity…

Taylor said Joe Burrow has been fully cleared, but owner and president Mike Brown indicated the team likely won’t use him in preseason games as a precautionary measure to keep him healthy as he continues to work back from his 2020 knee injury. Taylor clarified that plan is fluid.

“He’s cleared to do everything,” Taylor said. “Now it’s on us to be wise and take it week to week. Obviously, he wants to get the reps, be ready to play Week 1 against Minnesota. That’s our focus. It’s hard to say something’s set in stone. You want to take it week to week. But so far, so good. He had a great spring. He’s had a great summer. He’s ready to get back at it. He’s been out there the last two days with the rookies and the injured players and the other quarterbacks, and everything’s been good. It’s just on us to be wise going forward with him.”

Taylor said Burrow will continue some of his rehab work, so it’s possible he will miss reps in training camp to do that on certain days. Otherwise, it should be a fairly normal training camp for the starting quarterback.

Burrow will participate in 11 on 11s and won’t be as protected as far as the limitations they had during OTAs when running backs weren’t allowed to get close enough to him for handoffs or play-action fakes. Taylor said it will be important to simulate a live rush in some manner so Burrow gets a feel for that, especially with the mental aspect of coming off an ACL tear.

Other injuries to keep an eye on…

Center Trey Hopkins and nose tackle D.J. Reader have been fully cleared as well, but Taylor said Hopkins will be eased into things because his ACL tear occurred later than Burrow’s in late December. Reader is “good to go” after being held to the side during offseason workouts to continue rehab on his surgically repaired quad.

The Bengals on Sunday placed offensive tackle Hakeem Adeniji, punter Drue Chrisman, defensive end Wyatt Hubert and defensive end Cam Sample on the active/non-football injury list, wide receiver Riley Lees and defensive tackle Renell Wren on the active/physical unable to perform list and halfback Pooka Williams on the active/non-football illness list.

Taylor said Sample, the rookie fourth-round pick, and Lees are both day-to-day with hamstring issues, but Hubert tore his pec this summer and will be out for the year after undergoing surgery. Chrisman suffered a hand injury that will keep him out a couple weeks, and Wren, who was still rehabbing in the spring the quad that he injured last training camp, will be “slow to go these first couple days,” but will be back soon.

“It will just be a day to day thing with him, just making sure he’s got strength there in the quad before we turn him loose,” Taylor said.

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