Falcons: Was Jessie Bates the best free agent signing in 2023?

Jessie Bates signed a big contract to join the Atlanta Falcons and lived up to it in the biggest way.

Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons
Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Who could have known just how good the signing of Jessie Bates would be? The Atlanta Falcons believed he would be great considering the contract they gave him, but they didn't know he would be that freaking good.

This signing was undoubtedly one of the best of last year's free agency cycle. Now, let's try to figure out if it was the best free-agent signing.

Was the Falcons' signing of Jessie Bates the best move of 2023 free agency?

Let's get this out of the way, there is no doubt that Jessie Bates was one of the best free-agent signings we have seen. He was a big part of a defensive resurgence that gave them a late-season chance at the postseason.

Now, let's look at the debatable topic of if he was the best signing.

Along with Bates, here were some of the best free-agent signings in the NFL last year (not including re-signings):

  • QB Baker Mayfield - Buccaneers
  • RB David Montgomery - Lions
  • OG Isaac Seumalo - Steelers
  • DL Calais Campbell - Falcons
  • LB Azeez Al-Shaair - Titans
  • LB Bobby Okereke - Giants
  • S Geno Stone - Ravens

Out of those seven players, only one of them stands out as worthy competition for Jessie Bates—Baker Mayfield.

Bates signed a four-year, $64 million contract while Mayfield signed a one-year, $4 million contract.

Those two contracts are completely incomparable. Bates had already proven himself to be one of the best in the game before arriving in Atlanta while Mayfield signed a prove-it deal with Tampa after a shaky career to that point.

While we need to credit the Falcons for locking Bates down for four years, Baker still has him beaten as the best free agent signing because of four things: positional value, value of contract, expectation, and the simple fact that he led his team to the playoffs.

Consider all of those things and I don't know that you can make a convincing argument. Trust me, I would if I could.


No matter how you view it, Bates was the best defensive free agent signing in 2023 and was a top-two signing overall. It was a home run by the Atlanta Falcons.

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