Falcons “targeting a big-name safety” in free agency

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The Falcons own the second most cap space in the league, so it’s no surprise the team is going big game hunting in free agency. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding Atlanta targeting a ‘big-name’ safety. Fowler added that Jessie Bates III would fit nicely.

He’s not the first to suggest the Falcons as a potential landing spot for the premier free agent safety. After playing on the franchise tag in 2022, the former Bengals All-Pro is in line for a lucrative, multi-year deal. And Atlanta has a void at the position; of course, it makes sense.

Moreover, Bates was seen recently in public with Kyle Pitts, AJ Terrell, and Casey Hayward. Outside of being a very versatile safety, Bates intrigues me because of his durability. Last year marked his fifth straight 1,000-plus-snap season. After being taken in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Bates immediately started and has only missed two games in his career.

Spotrac’s market value has Bates garnering a four-year, $42.4 million contract, which would be $10.6 million per year. If that’s his value, the Falcons should sprint to sign that deal. I don’t know how realistic that number is, though.

That AAV is significantly lower than the other safeties at the top of the market — Derwin James ($19.1 million per year), Minkah Fitzpatrick ($18.4 million per), and Marcus Williams ($14 million per). I don’t think he’ll sniff $20 million per year like James, but he should be around Williams’ $14 million per year mark.

Regardless of the potential deal, Bates to the Falcons is a seamless fit in every sense — talent, timeline, and personality.

Photographer: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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