4 Big-name free agents linked to Cleveland Browns in 2023 offseason

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Jessie Bates III, Browns
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2. Jessie Bates III, S

C.J. Gardner-Johnson isn't the only safety being linked to Cleveland and he's also not the biggest name. That belongs to Jessie Bates III, who has spent the past five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Originally a second-round pick out of Wake Forest, Bates burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2018 with 111 tackles and three picks. He's continued to put up insane numbers and has 479 tackles, 14 interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 43 pass defenses in his career.

Bates is also a better fit for the Browns, who released John Johnson III after he was unable to provide them with a consistent threat as a centerfield-type safety. Bates, on the other hand, excels in this role which is why it makes sense that he's been on their radar since the season ended.

Cincinnati was unable to come to terms with Bates on an extension last year and he wound up playing on the franchise tag, which wasn't always a sure thing. There were rumors leading up to the start of the year that he could be traded but in the end, he spent one more season in the jungle but now appears to be on the way out.

With an estimated price tag north of $14 million, it won't be cheap to sign Bates but it's really not much more than they were paying Johnson. Should they be willing to restructure a few other deals, this could be a possibility.