We’re in that quiet February period of the NFL calendar between the Super Bowl and the start of free agency where speculation and scenarios run absolutely wild.
One of the biggest names in this year’s free agency class is star Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, who has helped anchor Cincinnati’s secondary through unprecedented success over the past two seasons. He was filmed having dinner with Atlanta Falcon players A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward and Kyle Pitts on Saturday night, giving that specific speculation a life of its own.
Jessie Bates was spotted last night hanging out with Falcons players. pic.twitter.com/u9ejCtFtC2— Bengals Global (@bengalsglobal) February 19, 2023
The Instagram video in question belongs to NFL agent David Mulugheta, who tagged Bates, Terrell, Hayward and Pitts.
Mulugheta represents all of these players. This could have been nothing more than an inconsequential dinner between an agent and his clients, but given the fact that the Falcons have a roster need at Bates’ position, as well as a significant amount of cap space and that the only players along with him are current Falcons, it’s more than fair to speculate and to turn this into a story. Mulugheta represents more than 40 active NFL players and the only three Falcons on his list of clientele were the ones at dinner with he and Bates.
Jessie Bates is currently ranked on NFL.com as the 10th best available free agent and the second-best safety right after Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and he may be one of the five best players allowed to hit the market given the looming monster extensions the Bengals will have to give to Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. Bates is squarely in his prime at age 25 and would be a significant upgrade for the Falcons at the safety position, where they could use the help.
An emotional Jessie Bates realizes Sunday might have been his last with Bengals. pic.twitter.com/CtTopXpE0s— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) January 30, 2023
Cincinnati would, however, be able to tag Bates (they currently have the cap space to do so) starting on February 21. Free agency opens on March 13, and while right now we can merely speculate about Bates potentially joining the Falcons, all I’ll say is that where there’s smoke there may be fire.