Former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III signed a monster four-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons last week, and the longtime Bengal shared a heartfelt message with the city of Cincinnati on Monday.
“The Bengals drafted me in 2018 at 21 years old, making my dream a reality. I’m proud to say we grew together for the better over those years,” Bates III wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I made historical memories & bonds with my brothers the #WhoDey nation throughout my 5 years. Forever Love! 30 OUT.”
The @Bengals drafted me in 2018 at 21 years old, making my dream a reality. I’m proud to say we grew together for the better over those years. I made historical memories & bonds with my brothers 🩸& the #WhoDey nation throughout my 5 years. Forever Love!
30 OUT 🖤#JustBelieve pic.twitter.com/7kOwwNzVzW
— Jessie Bates III (@jlbiii3) March 20, 2023
The four-year contract was worth $16.005 million average in annual salary, the fourth most ever paid for an NFL safety, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Bates III is the second defensive back the Bengals have lost to free agency, after safety Vonn Bell signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers. The two defensive backs were among the 20 Cincinnati players on the open market, according to FOX Sports.
He was ranked the No. 7 overall free agent by FOX Sports' Carmen Vitali and Ralph Vacchiano.
“Bates has quietly been one of the best safeties in the league for three years running. He had a career-high four interceptions this season and has topped 100 tackles in three of his five seasons in the league,” they wrote.
“Spotrac has his market value listed at $14 million per year, which is a slight bump from his previous $12 million salary. Bates was already given the franchise tag last season. The Bengals won't place it on him again, which means he should be highly sought-after by multiple teams.”
The 25-year-old was a second-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest, earning PFWA All-Rookie team honors in 2018.
After five seasons in Ohio, Jessie Bates III now takes his talents south to Atlanta where he should make an immediate impact for the Falcons in 2023.