The New England Patriots were quite busy on Monday, hosting multiple players on free agency visits. Among them was offensive lineman Ryan Bates, a restricted free agent who was tendered at the lowest level by the Buffalo Bills.
However, Bates left Foxborough without signing an offer sheet. This allowed another team to come in and sign him: according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the 25-year-old has signed an offer from the Chicago Bears. Per NFL rules, the Bills now have five days to make a counteroffer or Bates will transfer to the Bears.
Given that Buffalo only used the right of first refusal on the former undrafted rookie, the club would not receive any compensation in case of Bates leaving for Chicago.
Bates arrived in the league in 2019, when the Philadelphia Eagles signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State. He was traded to the Bills just three months later and went on to find some success as a depth option along the interior offensive line. In total, he has appeared in 46 games for the club including four in which he was a part of Buffalo’s starting lineup.
At the end of the 2021 season, the Bills offered him original-round tender at $2.4 million. Bates subsequently took visits with the Minnesota Vikings, Patriots and Bears.
The Patriots expressing interest in the three-year veteran was no surprise. Not only has the team successfully lured restricted free agents from Buffalo to New England in the past, it also has a need at its guard position after losing Ted Karras in free agency and trading fellow starter Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bates would have been an experienced player to add to the competition for the vacant starting spots. However, he will not come to New England and instead either stay put with a new contract from the Bills or join the Bears via their offer sheet.