Cincinnati Bengals fans have come to terms that Jessie Bates is as good as gone this offseason. He'll be worth more money than the Bengals will likely be willing to pay him plus he wasn't at his best this past season.
That being said, if Bates isn't coming back to Cincinnati, where might he land?
Arjun Menon and Brad Spielberger of PFF put together a list of likely landing spots for the top 50 free agents and said that Bates feels destined to become an Atlanta Falcon.
"The Falcons have a need at safety, and Bates could be a good fit, especially since they hired Ryan Nielsen, the New Orleans Saints‘ co-defensive coordinator in 2022. Richie Grant is a solid safety for Atlanta, and the Falcons move him all around the field, but they could upgrade Jaylinn Hawkins‘ spot, as he has never graded above 60.0 in his career. Nielsen was part of a Saints coaching staff that always had quality safeties on the roster, such as Marcus Maye, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell and Malcolm Jenkins. Bates can step into Williams' previous role at free safety, and he also has the capability to play in the box and succeed in Atlanta."- Arjun Menon and Brad Spielberger
Jessie Bates connected to the Falcons
As the PFF crew mentioned, Bates makes a lot of sense in Atlanta. The team has a strong need at safety and can give them a boost at the position.
If Bates departs this offseason, the hope is that the team can at least keep Vonn Bell because otherwise, they'll be starting two new players at safety in 2023. They drafted Dax Hill in the first round of last year's draft to prepare them for the eventual loss of Bates and now it's time to put that plan to action.
We all like Bates but it's felt like his time with the Bengals is nearing the end dating back to last offseason and unfortunately, the team won't be able to keep everyone. Bates feels like an easier option to move on from and if the Falcons want to pay him the massive contract he'll be commanding in free agency, then let them pay him.