Instant analysis after Bengals lose Jessie Bates to Falcons in free agency
As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals will lose Jessie Bates in free agency to the Atlanta Falcons.
Bates got a massive contract from the rebuilding Falcons, who paid a premium to get one of the game’s rangiest safeties. The Bengals wanted to keep Bates but were undoubtedly not interested in the price range.
Both the Bengals and Bates attempted multiple times to reach a long-term agreement but couldn’t get it done. Bates had telling comments about it and was later seen with Falcons players after the season.
Bates was an incredible player for the Bengals since the second round of the 2018 draft, picking off 14 passes and permitting more flexibility to a defense than most can afford:
Jessie Bates recorded an interception or pass defensed on 23.0% of his targets over the last three seasons, the 3rd-highest ball hawk rate in the NFL (min. 100 targets).
Opposing offenses have lost -27.4 EPA targeting Bates over that time frame (2nd among safeties).#DirtyBirds https://t.co/i2WdAv2Bn5 pic.twitter.com/CxTn9z00RC
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 13, 2023
While the Bengals planned for this by drafting Dax Hill in the first round one year ago, the plan certainly wasn’t to also lose starting safety Vonn Bell to the Carolina Panthers.
So not only does Hill, a rangy prospect in his own right, need to start next year, he’ll have to do it next to another guy making his Bengals debut.
As of now, Lou Anarumo loses some serious range in his defensive secondary and it could have a big impact on the number of looks he can prep for very different opponents. The fact the defense must start two new safeties — one who remains an unknown as of this writing — is quite problematic.
Still, Hill was a huge investment and was always going to get this shot. Bates, on the other hand, should have his time in town remembered fondly as a key leader who enabled the team to build around his range incredibly well and continued to bet on himself while taking things like the franchise tag in stride.
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