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Buffalo Bills agree to trade offensive lineman Ryan Bates to the Chicago Bears

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By: Sean Murphy

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears signed Bates to his current contract, which Buffalo then matched to retain him

The Buffalo Bills have agreed to trade offensive lineman Ryan Bates to the Chicago Bears, the team announced Monday night. The Bills will receive a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft in return for Bates. The deal is pending a physical to be completed on March 13.

Bates, 27, has spent the last five seasons with the Bills. He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills acquired him in August 2019 in a trade for linebacker Eli Harold.

General manager Brandon Beane has long admired versatile offensive linemen, and Bates certainly fit that bill. He played center and both guard positions while with the Bills, appearing in 73 games with the Bills since 2019, starting in 19 of them. Most of those starts came during the 2022 season, where he made 15 starts for the team at right guard.

In 2021, Bates earned the starting left guard gig for the Bills at the end of the season. His strong performance led the Chicago Bears to sign him to a four-year offer sheet worth $17 million that offseason. Since Buffalo had tagged Bates, who was a restricted free agent at the time, with an original-round tender, it essentially gave the Bills the chance to match the contract or let him walk. Buffalo matched the deal, but the Bears clearly never wavered in their desire to acquire the man affectionately known as “Rick” to his teammates.

Should the trade go through on March 13, it will give the Bills a tenth draft pick, and a third choice in the fifth round this April. Buffalo now owns pick No. 142 (from the Bears), pick No. 159 (from the Green Bay Packers thanks to the Rasul Douglas trade), and pick No. 162 (their original choice), all of which will be made in the fifth round of the draft. Buffalo is also expected to earn a compensatory draft choice at the end of the third round for losing linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who signed a big free agent deal last year with—you guessed it—da Bears.

Bates carried a $5.439 million cap hit with Buffalo for this season. Thanks to the trade, he’ll count as $4.006 million in dead cap against the Bills’ ledger this year, saving them $1.433 million on the 2024 salary cap.

Originally posted on Buffalo Rumblings