After seeing restricted free agent Ryan Bates sign an offer sheet with the Bears, the Bills faced the decision of matching it or watching him leave for no compensation. Today, they have decided on the former course of action, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that the contract is worth $17MM over four years (Twitter link). He adds that the first two years (valued at just under $9MM) are guaranteed.
Bates took over as the Bills’ starting left guard in Week 15 of this season, and held that role through to the end of the year and the playoffs. It was the most significant playing time of his three years in the NFL. Despite the limited workload he’s handled to date, his play down the stretch generated plenty of interest. The Bills tendered him at a rate of just over $2.4MM, leaving the door open to an offer sheet coming into play.
Bates visited with the Vikings, Patriots and Bears before ultimately signing an offer sheet with the latter. Chicago was looking to add to the interior of their line, having lost guard James Daniels to the Steelers earlier this offseason. Now, they will continue to search for a replacement in the second and third waves of the free agent market.
The Bills, meanwhile, are indeed able to retain one of their breakout players from last year. Some felt they should have tendered Bates at the second-round level to assure themselves of draft compensation, but now they have him under contract for the medium-term future.