There will be some interesting players available on the open market in March when free agency officially begins across the NFL.
Quarterback Derek Carr is available, Lamar Jackson and Jimmy Garoppolo could be available, star running back Saquon Barkley could be in play, and star linebacker Bobby Wagner was released by the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.
Another new addition to that list is Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, who is reportedly expected to become a free agent.
#Bengals Safety Jessie Bates is "as good as gone" from Cincinnati, writes @JayMorrisonATH
Bates is expected to hit free-agency after playing on the franchise tag in 2022.
He should be one of the better free-agents available in March. pic.twitter.com/lv20bQH9sY
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 24, 2023
Defense is the key to winning championships, and although Bates hasn’t made it onto a Pro Bowl squad in his five NFL seasons, he should be a very good addition for one lucky team.
In 2022, he registered eight passes defended and four interceptions, and he helped the Bengals reach the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row while ranking sixth in points allowed and fourth in passing touchdowns given up.
At age 25 (he will turn 26 on Monday, February 26), he should still have some room for growth and improvement moving forward.
Other than Bates, the Bengals have an outstanding young core that looks like it will be together for the foreseeable future.
Quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and running back Joe Mixon form a very nice trio, while Tee Higgins is an outstanding WR2.
They could use one or two more reinforcements on the defensive side of the football, especially since they were just 23rd in passing yards allowed and 18th in forced interceptions.
Regardless, the Bengals still seem to have a very real shot at getting back to the Super Bowl next season.NEXT: The Bengals Have Re-Signed A Key Special Teams Player