Atlanta Falcons Free Agent Target Jessie Bates - Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

BR Re-Grades Falcons Signing S Jessie Bates

The Atlanta Falcons made a lot of moves this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox argued that the biggest one the Falcons made was signing safety Jessie Bates III.

Knox also ranked the Falcons signing Bates one of the top 10 moves of the 2023 NFL offseason.

But while Knox admitted the move caused headlines, he didn’t love the signing. In an article where he re-graded his top 10 moves of the NFL offseason, Knox gave the Falcons a C+ for signing the former Cincinnati Bengals safety.

“There’s a lot to like about the addition, specifically Bates’ potential upside in the system of new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen,” Knox wrote. “Bates had four interceptions last season to go with eight passes defended and an opposing passer rating of only 76.1 in coverage.

“Nielsen comes over from the New Orleans Saints, where deep safeties like Marcus Williams and Marcus Maye played a featured role.”

But Knox gave the Falcons just above a passing grade for signing Bates because of the contract. Knox wrote that Atlanta had to overpay to land the safety.

The Falcons signed Bates to a four-year, $64.02 million contract.

The C+ grade is the same one that Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport gave the Falcons in March. He graded the acquisition shortly after it occurred at the beginning of free agency.

Davenport’s biggest criticism of the move was the fact the Falcons paid big money for a “non-premium position.”

The 26-year-old safety started 79 games over five seasons with the Bengals. Cincinnati drafted him in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft.

He has recorded 479 combined tackles, including 6 tackles for loss, and 2 quarterback hits. He also had 14 interceptions and 43 pass defenses over those five years.

Last season, he had 71 combined tackles, 8 pass defenses and a career-high 4 interceptions.

The Falcons may have overpaid for Bates, but he’s an upgrade over who the team had at safety last season.

Perhaps general manager Terry Fontenot could experience buyer’s remorse before Bates’ contract expires. But Bates is an addition that should improve the Atlanta secondary immediately.