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Around the AFC North: Jessie Bates' Future With Bengals Is Uncertain

Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) walks on the field before the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

Cincinnati Bengals: Impasse Between Bates and Bengals Lingers As Camp Approaches

When the Bengals open training camp next week, starting safety Jessie Bates is not expected to report.

Bates and the Bengals failed to reach agreement on a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. Bates has not signed his franchise tag and has "no intentions" of reporting to camp according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports.

A second team All-Pro in 2020, Bates is one of the Bengals' top defensive players with 408 tackles over the past four seasons, and he's also a locker room leader. The Bengals and Bates have been negotiating for months but remain far apart on a deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Bates may eventually decide to sign the franchise tag, which would pay him just under $13 million to play the 2022 season in Cincinnati. However, if the impasse lingers into late August, Bates' holdout could continue into the regular season. There is also the possibility that Bates will request a trade, and if the Bengals were willing to deal him, plenty of teams would be interested.

Bates' teammates are still hoping that a deal with the Bengals gets done.

"I obviously want him to get paid," defensive tackle DJ Reader said via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "That's my dog. But I keep telling him those fruits are gonna come. He's put in the labor. He's put in the work. And those fruits are gonna come, whether it's here or somewhere else."

Cleveland Browns: Backup QB Could Be Signed After Deshaun Watson Ruling

The Browns are waiting for NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson to rule on the Deshaun Watson case. The league's 15-month investigation into Watson’s alleged sexual misconduct continues, and if Watson is given a lengthy suspension, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer expects the Browns to sign a quarterback to backup Jacoby Brissett. Joshua Dobbs is the No. 3 quarterback on Cleveland's depth chart.

"The Browns quarterback room is a fluid situation," Cabot wrote. "First, they must discover the length of Watson's suspension, and then they'll go from there. If it's a short suspension, they feel pretty good about Brissett carrying them through those first four games – arguably the easiest start in the NFL. If it's eight games, I believe they'll acquire a backup to Brissett.

"If the NFL gets its way and he's out for the year – which is starting to seem unlikely – the Browns will revisit their QB situation to make sure they feel comfortable with Brissett. If they don't, they'll consider all options, but there aren't many. For now, Brissett is still their QB1 in Watson's absence and they'll find their No. 2."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Training Camp Returns to Saint Vincent College

The Steelers haven't held training camp at Saint Vincent College since 2019, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Steelers will return to Latrobe, PA, next week and the veteran players are excited, while the younger players are looking forward to a new experience.

"I think it'll be really cool seeing the fans every day," rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett said via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I've heard there's a ton of support, and we really appreciate all the fans who come out."

Veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu believes going away to camp will help the Steelers bond, as they prepare for their first season since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's retirement.

"Before COVID, I kind of liked the idea of us going away — especially to Saint Vincent, Latrobe, it just reminds you of that college feel," Alualu said. "It's good for camaraderie. I guess it's kind of a way to almost keep you humble. There's nothing else going on but just kind of getting your mind right for training camp. I kind of enjoyed that."

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