Source – Falcons add Jessie Bates III to 4-year, $64.02 million deal

Michael RothsteinESPN Writer2 minute read

The Atlanta Falcons continued their free-agent spending spree on Monday, agreeing to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, sources told ESPN.

The deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is for four years and $64.02 million, including $23 million in the first year and $36 million in the first two years. That makes Bates the fourth highest-paid safety in NFL history.

Bates is giving Atlanta top-notch secondary safety for new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to go with cornerback AJ Terrell, who the team took in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Bates is also giving Atlanta a flexibility in the defensive backfield as the team brings back its two safe starters from last season – Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant.

Bates is the sixth player to agree to terms or sign with the Falcons on Monday. New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata agreed to terms with the team, which also gave Pro Bowl right guard Chris Lindstrom a five-year extension through 2028. The Falcons also traded a seventh pick round against New England for tight end Jonnu Smith and -signed fullback Keith Smith to a one-year contract, sources said, and re-signed punter Bradley Pinion to a three-year deal .

Bates, who started 79 games in five seasons with the Bengals, recorded a career-high four interceptions last season while totaling eight pass deflections for one of the most effective pass defenses in the league. .

Cincinnati led the NFL in 2022 in opposing completion percentage and held quarterbacks to the third-lowest total QBR in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. When Bates was the closest defenseman, according to NFL Next Gen stats, opponents were held to -8.7 completion percentage below expectations.

With a range of shared positions and fields over the top and a history of creating production on the ball with his 14 career interceptions, Bates fits easily into single-high and two-deep schemes.

He played the 2022 season on the one-year franchise tag after he and the Bengals failed to agree to a long-term extension with him for two consecutive seasons. As the team neared the end of its season, Wake Forest’s 2018 second-round pick said he knew he could play elsewhere in 2023.

“I’ve been emotional about it for a long time,” Bates said Jan. 30. “

Bates, who turned 26 in February, has 3 forced fumbles (2 digs) as well as 478 tackles and 43 passes defended. He scored his only touchdown during his rookie season.

ESPN’s Ben Baby and Matt Bowen contributed to this report.

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