NFL free agency: Falcons reportedly signing ex-Bengals standout S Jessie Bates to $64M deal

Nov 6, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (30) runs onto the field prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Safety Jessie Bates III is reportedly headed to the Falcons. He was No. 3 in Frank Schwab's top 25 free agents of this NFL offseason. (Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports)

The Atlanta Falcons are going to sign former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III to a four-year, $64.02 million deal, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports.

The contract is the fourth-largest for a safety in the NFL, per the report. The move takes the league's top free-agent defensive back off the market.

Bates, 26, started in at least 15 games in each of his five seasons with the Bengals after being selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was named second-team All-Pro in 2020 and tallied 14 interceptions and two fumble recoveries while averaging 95.8 tackles in his five Bengals seasons.

Bates and the Bengals failed to come to terms on a long-term deal at the conclusion of his four-year rookie contract. He threatened to hold out last season, but eventually played under a $12.9M franchise tag tender.

Bengals management suggested last spring amid the failed negotiations that Bates wouldn't be part of the team's long-term plans as it prioritized utilizing salary cap space on anticipated upcoming deals with Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase at the end of their rookie contracts. The Bengals picked safety Daxton Hill with the 31st selection of the 2022 draft. He started two games in 2022 and projects to fill Bates' void in the lineup next season.

Bates projects to slot into the Falcons defensive backfield next to strong safety Jaylinn Hawkins.