Falcons to give S Jessie Bates III a four-year, $64.02 million deal. Grade: A-

The 2022 Atlanta Falcons had a couple of underrated role-players at safety in Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins, but neither man was going to move the needle as a top-tier safety would. So, Atlanta took the Cincinnati Bengals’ best player at the position off the market, giving Jessie Bates III a four-year, $64.02 million deal. Bates played on the franchise tag last season, and he did it well, with 29 catches allowed on 41 targets for 429 yards, 143 yards after the catch, four touchdowns, four interceptions, four pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 97.6.

As Vonn Bell signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers, the Bengals are now in the unenviable position of replacing both of their safeties — and given the success those two had together, that’s a big ask.

Bates is a tough, smart veteran defender who finally got the payday he deserved, and he’ll be a major asset in Atlanta’s rebuilding defense.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire