Hours after it was reported that Vonn Bell wouldn't be returning to the Cincinnati Bengals, Jessie Bates is also reportedly leaving. Ian Rapoport reported that Bates was signing with the Atlanta Falcons. This move now ensures that the Bengals won't have their starting safety duo back from a season ago.
The Bengals knew this move was coming. They franchise tagged Bates last year and he didn't play well enough to earn an extension from the team so we all figured this move was bound to happen.
According to Tom Pelissero, Bates earned a four-year deal worth $64.02 million and will earn $23 million this year. That's a contract the Bengals couldn't afford to give him, not with so many other needs to fill.
Jessie Bates is leaving the Bengals for the Falcons
Because the Bengals knew that Bates was as good as gone last year, they drafted Dax Hill in the first round and it'll now be Hill stepping into one of those two starting safety roles. Perhaps the Bengals sign a key name in free agency to fill the other spot or maybe they turn to the draft to fill that hole too.
Either way, this isn't a great situation to be in. Losing Bell was a huge shock but now, it's official that the team won't have either of their starting safeties from 2022. The end of an era.