The NFL combine is coming to a close but the impact of what happened there, behind the scenes and on the field, is yet to be seen. As we have discussed, the combine is where most free agent and trade deals get completed or almost completed.
This week, we shared the information we heard on the ground in Indianapolis which has started to get multiple reports sharing similar information. A few pieces of information that are relative to the newest report about Jessie Bates III and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday:
- GM Andrew Berry is being aggressive
- Bates is someone they are targeting but the safety wants a big contract
- Players are excited about playing with Browns players including Deshaun Watson, Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb
- “Does he sleep?” Berry is highly active throughout combine week
- Bates is a target but some believe his contract will be too big for Cleveland
- The delay between the combine and the start of free agency could bring down free-agent contracts
Sunday we got a new report from Mary Kay Cabot. Among the things in her report was that Watson was interested in helping the team’s salary cap through a restructuring. She also reported that Bates would like to play with Watson whom he shares an agent with:
Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, a 2020 second-team All-Pro, would love to play with Watson if he hits the market, a league source says.
Cabot notes, as we have above, that the problem could be the contract that Bates is set to garner. Bates is quoted in the piece, from a previous interview, that he isn’t in a situation where he can leave a huge amount of money on the table just to play where he wants. In the interview he was speaking of staying with the Cincinnati Bengals.
A fun side note, Bates intercepted Watson when the two met up in Week 14 of the 2022 NFL season.
Unlikely in the past few years, reports coming out of the combine are less predictive of what will happen when free agency opens. Far more things are written in pencil than pen compared to even just last year.
For now, it is interesting to see the connections made between Bates and Cleveland especially given Watson’s desire to restructure while sharing an agent with the top free safety on the market.