4 free-agent safeties the Carolina Panthers could sign in 2023

(Sam Greene/The Enquirer via IMAGN Content Services) Jessie Bates III
(Sam Greene/The Enquirer via IMAGN Content Services) Jessie Bates III /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports) Jessie Bates III /

Carolina Panthers could sign Jessie Bates III

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who the marquee safety will be if he does test the market. Jessie Bates III continues to cement his status as one of the league’s best at the position and with no new contract yet confirmed with the Cincinnati Bengals, a move away gets increasingly likely with the legal tampering period looming large.

Bates played on the franchise tag last season and once again excelled as the Bengals tightened their stranglehold on the AFC North. However, the likes of quarterback Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are due their megadeals soon, so there might not be enough spare resources to keep the prolific defensive back around.

This should put the Carolina Panthers are others around the league on red alert. Bates would be an immediate upgrade on anything Ejiro Evero has at his disposal – including Jeremy Chinn – so there’s just no telling what his presence could do for this defense in 2023 and beyond.

Signing someone with Bates’ credentials entering his prime won’t be cheap. Spotrac projects the former second-round selection to command an annual salary of $14 million on a four-year, $56.26 million deal, which is a decent chunk of change Carolina doesn’t possess until further sacrifices are made.

It does appear unrealistic on multiple fronts. But if general manager Scott Fitterer is known for anything, it’s shooting his shot and being in on every deal.