PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Buffalo Bills will match the offer sheet offensive guard Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears last week, general manager Brandon Beane said Monday at the NFL’s annual owners meetings.
The Bills had until Tuesday to match the offer sheet Bates signed with the Bears.
“We’ve kind of weighted that and worked through it. And obviously we’re tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back,” Beane said.
The deal is for four years, per a source, and the first two years are fully guaranteed.
“I just found that out. It stinks. But that’s part of the RFA process,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said. “So we’ll adjust and we’ll keep adding players. It’s out of your control. It’s just part of the deal where you put your best foot forward and we did. We came strong, and that’s given back to their team and it’s up to them whether they want to match it. It is what it is. We’ll adjust like everything else.”
Bates, 25, had free-agent visits with the Bears, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots last week, after the Bills offered an original-round tender of $2.4 million.
With the Bills, Bates will compete for the starting right guard spot. Rodger Saffold III was signed in free agency and is expected to start at left guard.
The team also re-signed offensive lineman Ike Boettger to a one-year deal Monday. Boettger started 10 games at left guard for the Bills last year before tearing an Achilles against New England in Week 16. Bates came in for Boettger when he went down with the injury.
“It’s really important for us to be strong up front, both lines, Ryan’s a versatile player,” Beane said. “He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he’s been a center, guard he’s filled in, and we thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season [games] and then the two postseason games. It didn’t seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows Josh. RFAs are close to UFAs, but it was a deal that we felt we could match, and we plan to do that.”
The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Bates spent the past three seasons primarily as a backup for the Bills after he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Because of injuries along the offensive line, Bates started the final three games of the regular season and two postseason contests, most of which came at left guard, and played 223 total snaps between left and right guard last season. He also has experience at center.
While injuries led to him taking the field, Bates maintained the starting job for the end of the season and the playoff run because of his performance alongside left tackle Dion Dawkins. For the season, Bates had a 93% pass block win rate at guard, which hovers around league average, and a 59% run block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Bills’ offensive line as a unit improved with Bates on the field. Quarterback Josh Allen was not sacked once over the final three games of the season and was sacked twice in the postseason.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.