1. Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cowboys finally have a strong safety corps with Malik Hooker, Jayron Kearse, and Donovan Wilson. But while that unit is good, they could become great with the addition of Jessie Bates from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bates and the Bengals were unable to come to terms on a contract extension and he was hit with the franchise tag. He has been adamant about not playing on that tag, so the speculation is that he could end up being on the trading block.
If so, Dallas needs to see what it would take to land him. While Hooker can be a good safety, he’s been hampered by injuries much of his career and Bates would be an upgrade since he’s been the best defensive back in the NFL in terms of forcing incompletions over the past several seasons.
The Cowboys sorely need players in their secondary capable of forcing incomplete passes the way Bates does. They do have playmakers such as Trevon Diggs who had 11 interceptions last season, but they have also been susceptible to the deep pass. A true centerfielder who has no injury concerns could help shore this up.
When it comes to Bates, however, there would be two concerns. One would be the price to acquire his services, and the other would be what it would take to keep him.
Should the Bengals be holding out for a first-round pick, the Joneses certainly will not be interested. It’s also questionable if the Jones family would pay the $16 million-plus price tag Bates is looking for beyond 2022.
Still, such a move is what they need to do in order to get over the hump. Hopefully, the front office has been watching teams such as the Rams take similar risks and have it end in a title run.