What does each offseason acquisition bring to the Falcons: Jessie Bates III

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The Falcons were quite active this offseason, spending mountains of cap space in free agency, among other acquisitions, to bolster a roster that desperately needed talent. With all of those new faces come new skill sets, so I thought it would be a worthwhile series to talk about the new Falcons, beginning with the gem of the free agent class.

Jessie Bates III

The former Bengals safety played on the franchise tag a year ago, garnering a lucrative four-year, $64 million deal. Outside of Chris Lindstrom‘s extension, it was the most expensive deal handed out by the Falcons this offseason,

That AAV of about $16 million is the fourth-highest mark for safeties. Derwin Jones is the highest-paid player at the position ($19 million per year), followed by Minkah Fitzpatrick ($18.247 million per year) and Jamal Adams ($17.5 million). Jessie Bates’ new yearly salary is above Justin Simmons of the Broncos and Budda Baker of the Cardinals.

Fans should feel comfortable handing Bates that kind of money, though.

For several reasons, Bates will be well worth the $64 million. Most importantly, he’s durable; the 2022 campaign marked Bates’ fifth straight 1,000-plus snap season. He immediately started for Cincinnati after the Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, only missing two games across five seasons.

Moreover, the All-Pro safety is entering his prime, only 26 years old by the time the 2023 season rolls around.

On the field, Bates is a rangy ballhawk who can play the center field role in single-high, producing at an elite level since entering the league, with 43 pass defenses and 14 interceptions in that time. He’s no slouch defending the run, either.

There are quite a few reasons to be excited about Bates, but possibly the most important facet of the signing is his ability to make others around him better. The veteran will provide valuable experience for the young second-round pick that will play next to him — Richie Grant. That impact cannot be understated. Grant’s development should accelerate more rapidly under the wing of Bates.

This will be one of those free-agent signings the Falcons will not come to regret.

Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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