NFL Free Agency Primer: Jessie Bates III

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Jessie Bates III

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates has been a consistent playmaker and a durable leader on the team since he entered the league as the 54th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. In five seasons, he has started an impressive 79 games and nabbed 14 interceptions, including a career-high four this past season. He earned a second-team All-Pro following the 2020 season and has played in seven playoff games over the past two years, logging two interceptions.

The Fit:

At only 25 years old, Bates is a young but extremely experienced defensive back who can provide reliability and mentorship to any defense in need of an identity. He would make sense on a young, struggling team that needs to be instilled with competitiveness and a winning mentality. A team like the Chicago Bears or Houston Texans could benefit from his personality and versatility, as could any team that ends up hiring a Bengals coach for a prominent role.

The Cost:

Bates played underneath the franchise tag and is unlikely to do so for a second year, as it would cost the Bengals approximately $15.5 million on a one-year deal. He's probably earned himself a deal that will place him among the league's highest-paid safeties, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Budda Baker's four-year, $59 million pact with the Arizona Cardinals and Justin Simmons' four-year, $61 million contract with the Denver Broncos.

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