The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the league’s best teams. After years of limited playoff success, the team has won five playoff games over the last two seasons and was one play away from reaching back-to-back Super Bowls this year.
A big part of their success is certainly the offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow and weapons like Jamarr Chase, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins. It’s probably the best young core on offense in the NFL in quite some time, and figures to be a problem for years to come.
But, that defense is pretty good, and it has been led by a great safety tandem in Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates. Bates is one of the league’s true defensive superstars, but Bell is one of the more underrated players in the league, and he is key for the Bengals.
But, they won’t have either of them anymore, as both left in free agency.
Bell is joining the Carolina Panthers, and the Ohio State alum is getting paid. His deal is worth $22.5 million over 3 years, including $13 million guaranteed.
As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the Panthers are signing S Vonn Bell. https://t.co/mIhDT7MqOl
— ThePanthersWire (@ThePanthersWire) March 13, 2023
He will always be a Bengals legend for this hit against the rival Steelers.
Vonn Bell will forever be a Cincinnati Legend for this pic.twitter.com/2B1VvbKgxP
— WINCINNATI (@WINCINNATI_) March 13, 2023
Bates is the headline loss, though, as he will be joining the Atlanta Falcons.
Falcons to sign safety Jessie Bates III to 4-year, $64M deal. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/OyQ3NgB5lj
— NFL (@NFL) March 13, 2023
The 26-year-old was an All-Pro in 2020 and is one of the great centerfield-type safeties in the league. Losing one of them would’ve been a blow, but both could make the defense too weak to be in Super Bowl contention.