Panthers, S Vonn Bell Agree To Deal

Both the Bengals’ starting safeties became eligible to negotiate with other teams Monday. While Jessie Bates has not committed to a deal yet, Vonn Bell is planning to leave Ohio.

The Panthers intend to sign Bell, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of report. Bell will head back to the NFC South, joining his third NFL organization. Bates is expected to land a deal far north of his 2022 franchise tag price. This Bell-Carolina agreement points to the Bengals losing both their starting back-liners.

Bell agreed to a three-year deal worth $22.5MM, Albert Breer of tweets. He will be guaranteed $12MM, Joe Person of The Athletic adds (on Twitter). The Panthers are guaranteeing $6MM of Bell’s 2024 base salary, giving the veteran defender a bit of security. This contract marks a slight raise for Bell, who played out a three-year, $18MM Bengals deal last season.

The Bengals did come to terms with Germaine Pratt, keeping the fifth-year linebacker in the fold. This Bell departure may be the cost of that business. The Panthers, however, will be employing one of the NFL’s more consistent safeties. The former Saints second-round pick notched a career-high four interceptions last season. Despite going into his eighth NFL season, Bell is just 28.

Pro Football Focus viewed Bell as a top-25 safety in both 2020 and ’21. Last season, PFF slotted Bell 35th overall. But Bell was a constant in run support with the Bengals, posting 114- and 97-tackle seasons in 2020 and ’21. He also deflected eight passes in both 2021 and ’22. Bell will join Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods in Carolina, for the time being.

Although the Bengals retained Pratt, Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes they wanted to bring back Bell as well. Lou Anarumo expressed concern about the Bengals losing both Bates and Bell. That reality could be upon the AFC North champions, though they did begin preparing for at least one such departure by drafting Dax Hill in the 2022 first round. Hill did not see too much time as a rookie, but that will change in 2023.

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