What was the Falcons best offseason move? CBS weighs in

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The Falcons were one of the most active teams this offseason. Armed with a mountain of cap space and draft picks, Atlanta completely retooled the roster, giving Arthur Smith by far the most talented team he’s had since taking over.

Wherever you look on the depth chart, the Falcons are much improved from a year ago. Whether it’s internal development or external acquisitions, the club completely overhauled its talent.

They signed marquee free agents all over the defense and added arguably the most talented prospect in the draft, but what was the Falcons’ best offseason move? According to Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports, it’s the deal that landed Jessie Bates III in Atlanta.

Was it a quiet offseason for Atlanta? Not on the defensive side of the ball, as the Falcons worked to get players that fit Ryan Nielsen’s scheme. Bates is the centerpiece of the defensive moves, signing one of the best safeties in football to a four-year, $64 million deal.

Bates had the same impact last year as he had in previous years, finishing with 71 tackles, eight passes defensed and a career-high four interceptions for the Bengals in 2022. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 49.8 passer rating targeting Bates, completing just 59% of their passes.

The Falcons had a bottom ten pass defense last season, ranking 25th in pass yards allowed and 23rd in pass touchdowns allowed. Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins were their starting safeties last season, so Bates is a massive upgrade. Bates should get A.J. Terrell back to his All-Pro level too.

It’s hard to argue with Jessie Bates being the best offseason move. On the field, he’s incredibly durable and a versatile chess piece. The 2022 campaign marked Bates’ fifth straight 1,000-plus snap season, only missing two games across five seasons with the Bengals. Bates is best as a single high safety in a centerfielder role but can play in the box, in the slot, in a split safety look, etc.

I could go on and on about how impactful he’ll prove to be on the field, but the most important factor 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 effect cannot be understated. Grant’s development should accelerate more rapidly under the wing of Bates.

However, I could understand if you believe another offseason move was better. Signing David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, and Kaden Elliss; drafting Bijan Robinson and Matthew Bergeron; hiring Ryan Nielsen; trading for Jonnu Smith, or extending Chris Lindstrom — there are so many great moves to be proud of for the Falcons. It’s hard to choose just one, but signing Jessie Bates III is one I can get behind.

Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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