The Atlanta Falcons made a huge splash in free agency on Monday.
Atlanta signed former All-Pro defensive back Jessie Bates. Bates, who previously spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals, will switch conferences and cities as he flies south to join the Dirty Birds.
NFL insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported the news of Bates’ signing. “Safety Jessie Bates and the Falcons have agreed to a four-year, $64M contract, including $23M in the first year, per source,” Howe tweeted.
Safety Jessie Bates and the Falcons have agreed to a four-year, $64M contract, including $23M in the first year, per source. @TheAthletic
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 13, 2023
In 79 career games, Bates has recorded 14 interceptions, 43 passes defended, three forced fumbles, and 479 tackles. He has been regarded as one of the best free safeties in the league over the past few years.
Cincinnati opted to franchise tag Bates last season. But now that one year elapsed, Bates is no longer a Bengal. He was a key contributor on a team that made back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game. And, of course, Super Bowl LVI.
According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, Bates will become the fourth-highest-paid safety in NFL history when he signs the deal.
Falcons are giving former Bengals S Jessie Bates a four-year, $64.02 million deal that includes $23 million in year one and $36 million in first two years of the deal, per source. He now is the fourth highest-paid S in NFL history.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2023
The NFL world reacted to the major signing.
ESPN Stats & Info delivered a key statistic about the Bengals, who lost both Bates and Vonn Bell to free agency.
Over the last 2 years, the Bengals defense had BOTH safeties Vonn Bell AND Jessie Bates on the field for 90% of their snaps.
Both Bell (to CAR) and Bates (to ATL) agreed to deals elsewhere today. https://t.co/EZqBFAZcX2
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 13, 2023
Drew Bogs praised the Fort Wayne native who made “BANK!”
The Fort Wayne native just made BANK! https://t.co/ClKV4aJVHn
— Drew Bogs (@DrewBogs623) March 13, 2023
Ben Baby claimed this was the “kind of deal that Bates has been look for since the start of 2021.” Now, he’s got it.
This the kind of deal that Bates has been looking for since the start of 2021.
It's a premium amount, but the Falcons are getting a player who has the range to give a defense a ton of flexibility. https://t.co/6rLmbJUxlk
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) March 13, 2023
Leger Douzabe called Bates “a huge get” for the Falcons.
Falcons fixing that defense, getting Bates is a huge get. https://t.co/uUbqs5j7T5
— Leger Douzable (@LegerDouzable) March 13, 2023