After his impressive performance with the Bills down the stretch this past season, guard Ryan Bates was thought to be one of the most sought-after restricted free agents. It’s not surprising, then, that Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune reports (on Twitter) that he “intends to sign an offer sheet” from the Bears.
Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson tweets that Bates is indeed signing with Chicago. As a result, the Bills now have five days to decide whether or not they will match the Bears’ offer. Bates, 25 was given an original-round tender of $2.433MM by Buffalo. Because he was a UDFA, however, the Bills would not receive any draft pick compensation should they decline to match (as opposed to, for instance, the second-round pick they would be in line for had they tendered him at just under $4MM).
Bates took over the starting left guard spot in Week 15 of the 2021 campaign, and held on to it for the remainder of the season. While his time as a starter was limited to that stretch, his play generated plenty of interest. It was reported last week that Chicago was among three teams – the others being the Vikings and Patriots – who met with the Penn State alum. It became clear early on in that process that an offer sheet was a distinct possibility.
Now, the Bills face a decision which wouldn’t have seemed likely after Bates’ first two (start-less) seasons in the NFL. Much of their next move will, of course, depend on the specifics of Chicago’s offer. In any event, this will remain a key storyline for both teams for the next few days.