Bengals loss is Falcons gain with All-Pro defender

NFL: OCT 08 Texans at Falcons

While the NFL Draft is the topic of conversation around the country, especially the Falcons and their decision to use their top pick on Michael Penix, there’s another story I came across that I felt Falcons fans should see.

It’s a story from ESPN’s Ben Baby, who is the beat reporter for the Bengals, about how not extending Jessie Bates III has proven costly. Cincinnati allowed the former second-round pick to walk and has struggled to replace his presence while Atlanta handed him a $64 million free agent deal and has been rewarded immediately.

During the Bengals postseason run, Joe Burrow received a majority of the praise, but it was Bates and the Bengals defense that propelled those teams to the Super Bowl and AFC championship.

“Ahead of the 2021 season, former safety Jessie Bates III and the Bengals failed to come to an agreement on a multi-year deal that would have made him one of the league’s highest-paid safeties. A year later, Cincinnati gave him the one-year franchise tag and drafted [Dax] Hill, who eventually became Bates’ replacement,” Baby said.

Hill has struggled and is now being moved back to cornerback, which head coach Zac Taylor revealed during his post-draft press conference. The Bengals’ defense has been susceptible to explosive plays, evidence of poor safety play since Bates left.

While the Falcons are enjoying the fruits of their investment in the Wake Forrest product, the Bengals continue to try to replace the All-Pro defender.

“In hindsight, perhaps extending Bates as early as 2021 might have alleviated some of the concerns that have yet to be resolved,” Baby added.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but in a moment where the Atlanta Falcons have been the national media’s punching bag for their draft, I thought it would be a nice time to put this together.

Last year, Atlanta was criticized for the massive contract they handed Jessie Bates, and all he did was put together his second All-Pro season, in which he ranked second among safeties in tackles (132), second in interceptions (6), and tied for third in forced fumbles (3).

While it may be doom and gloom in Atlanta as fans question the Michael Penix pick, let’s think about the nicer things in life, like the Falcons hitting a home run with Jessie Bates III.

Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire

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