The Atlanta Falcons have been speculated as the landing spot for free agent safety Jessie Bates this off-season. Bates has been an integral part of a Bengals defense that helped push the team to two straight AFC title games and one Super Bowl appearance.
Atlanta chasing Bates makes sense considering the natural fit he would be in the secondary and the team’s cap space and lack of proven options at either safety position.
Furthering the fit this off-season was the news that Bates had dinner with prominent Atlanta Falcons players including their star tight end Kyle Pitts and corner A.J. Terrell. While this cannot have anything to do with actual negotiations as free agency is not yet open it is certainly noteworthy.
The Falcons have over $60 million in cap space and signing Bates this off-season should give them a star defender while leaving well over $40 million to address the rest of the roster. The Falcons have moves they can still make as well to further open their cap space by either restructuring or cutting players like Casey Hayward who is coming off of a serious injury and is a question mark.
Keeping Hayward on the roster and re-signing Isaiah Oliver to run it back with an improved pass rush and Jessie Bates is also an option. Atlanta needed more help from their pass rush and better production from both safety positions in the 2022 season. Signing Bates fixes one of these problems and gives Atlanta fans reason to believe the team will take a huge step forward defensively.
Bates finished the 2022 season with 71 combined tackles and a career-high 4 interceptions. Bates has 2 career playoff interceptions as well and would bring a level of playoff experience the current Atlanta defensive roster lacks outside of Grady Jarrett.