Sources: Falcons adding Jesse Bates III on 4-year, $64.02M deal

The Atlanta Falcons continued their free agent spending spree, agreeing to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jesse Bates III on Monday, sources told ESPN.

The deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is for four years and $64.02 million, including $23 million in the first year and $36 million over the first two years. This makes Betts the fourth highest paid safety in NFL history.

Bates gives Atlanta a top-end safety in the secondary for new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, who goes with cornerback AJ Terrell, whom the team took in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Bates also provides Atlanta with flexibility in the defensive backfield as the team returns both of its starters at safety from last season – Jaylin Hawkins and Richie Grant.

Bates is the sixth player on Monday to either agree to terms or commit to the Falcons. New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata agreed to terms with the team, which also gave Pro Bowl right guard Chris Lindstrom a five-year extension through 2028. -Signed fullback Keith Smith to a one-year deal, sources said, and re-signed punter Bradley Pinion to a three-year deal.

Bates, who started 79 games in five seasons with the Bengals, recorded a career-high four interceptions last season while matching eight pass deflections for one of the league’s most effective pass defenses.

According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, Cincinnati led the NFL in 2022 in completion percentage opposed and held quarterbacks to the third-lowest total QBR in the league. When Bates was the closest defender, opponents were held to a -8.7 completion percentage higher than expected, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

With post and split-field range in the top and a history of producing on-the-ball production with his 14 career interceptions, Bates fits easily into both single-high and two-deep schemes.

He played out the 2022 season on a one-year franchise tag after he and the Bengals failed to come to terms on a long-term extension with him for two straight seasons. As the team nears the end of its season, the 2018 second-round pick out of Wake Forest said he knew he could be playing 2023 elsewhere.

“I’ve been passionate about it for a long time,” Bates said on Jan. 30. “Still numb to it. ‘Gratitude’ is the word that I can really use to describe everything that happened in my last five years here.”

Bates, who turns 26 in February, has 478 tackles and 3 forced fumbles (2 recoveries) along with 43 passes defended. He scored his only touchdown during his rookie season.

ESPN’s Ben Baby and Matt Bowen contributed to this report.

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