Former Bengals Safety Jessie Bates To Sign With Atlanta Falcons

Jessie Bates, a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2018 NFL Draft, is taking his talents to Atlanta on a four-year, $64.02 million dollar deal with the Falcons, according to multiple reports, including Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Bates played last season on the franchise tag. He will head to Atlanta as the fourth highest-paid safety in NFL history, according to Rapoport.

Bates will receive $23 million in Year One of the deal and $36 million in the first two seasons, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. During his Cincinnati career, Bates racked up 14 interceptions, 479 total tackles, and 43 pass deflections. He had a career-high four interceptions in 2022. With Bates and Vonn Bell leaving Cincinnati — the latter reportedly will sign with the Carolina Panthers, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler — the Bengals will have two new starting safeties in 2023. Talent continues to leave the AFC North. In addition to Bates and Bell, Cameron Sutton reportedly departed the Steelers earlier today for the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens released defensive lineman Calais Campbell in a cap-related move.

Bates joins an Atlanta team that has been active on the first day of the legal tampering period of free agency. The Falcons locked up guard Chris Lindstrom to a mega-extension this morning and reportedly agreed with former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata on a deal. Expect Bates to be a key part of an Atlanta team that’s going to look to win on the ground and through its defense. Keeping Lindstrom, one of the best offensive linemen in football, while bringing in Onyemata and Bates is a great way to start roster building for that philosophy.

Cincinnati has an in-house replacement for Bell or Bates, as it spent a first-round pick in 2022 on former Michigan safety Dax Hill. But it’s going to be hard to replace the value that Bates, a second-team All-Pro in 2020, provided. While the Bengals were reportedly able to retain linebacker Germaine Pratt today, losing Bell and Bates ahead of a pending contract extension for star quarterback Joe Burrow is undoubtedly a blow for the reigning AFC North champions.

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