Report: Falcons Sign Former Bengals Star Jessie Bates
Originally Published: March 13, 2023 10:06 p.m.
The standout defender will reportedly become one of the highest-paid safeties in NFL history. Jessie Bates, one of the NFL’s top available safeties, will reportedly head to the NFC after agreeing to terms on a four-year, $64 million contract with the Falcons, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal, which will make Bates the fourth-highest-paid safety in NFL history, will net the former Bengals star $36 million in guaranteed money, including $23 million in 2023, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Atlanta will be able to complete the deal with the 26-year-old standout once the new league year begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. A second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Bates will depart Cincinnati after playing out the ’22 season on the franchise tag. Stalled negotiations led to the Bengals tagging Bates in order to keep him from hitting free agency, which eventually led to Bates skipping the offseason program. He signed the one-year tender after reporting to training camp on Aug. 23. Despite not landing the deal he hoped for, Bates went on to start in every game for the 12–4 Bengals, finishing the season with 71 tackles, eight passes defended, four interceptions and a forced fumble. For his career, Bates has recorded 472 tackles, 14 INTs and 43 passes defended while serving as a key piece on one of the league’s best defenses over the last few seasons. While Atlanta stands to strengthen a promising secondary headlined by cornerback A.J. Terrell, Bates’s monster deal figures to impact a Bengals defense that lost another key starter earlier in the day. Veteran safety Vonn Bell, who played with Bates for the past three seasons, will reportedly join the NFC, as well, after signing with the Panthers.