The Atlanta Falcons mean business. The franchise just went out and signed All-Pro safety Jessie Bates, who was considered one of the best players available in this year’s free agency.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, Bates received a four-year, $64 million deal that makes him one of the game’s highest-paid safeties. The deal will see the 26-year-old get $23 million in the 2023 season alone.
Bates spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played out the 2022 campaign on a franchise tag, delivering 71 tackles, eight pass deflections, and career-high four interceptions. The Bengals reportedly made a strong pitch to keep Bates around but couldn’t match the Falcons’ offer.
With Jessie Bates in the building, Atlanta takes another step in fixing their struggling defense. Bates is expected to give the Falcons more versatility in coverage while also providing a safety blanket for last year’s start Richie Grant when he executes other tasks like run defense.
Bates’ departure, on the other hand, will hurt the Bengals. They have now lost both of their starting safeties from 2022 campaign and will have to turn to the trade market and/or draft to shore up the position.