The Buffalo Bills got a breakout season from guard Ryan Bates, but now the 25-year-old could be breaking away from the team.
Bates, a restricted free agent this offseason, has gotten interest from several teams including one of Buffalo’s top AFC East rivals. With the Bills balancing a tight cap situation that became even tighter with the signing of Von Miller, the team could be at risk of losing Bates if another team makes an offer too difficult for them to match.
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Bates Drawing Interest
It’s already been a busy offseason for Bates, who has drawn the interest of several teams. As Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, he has already met with the Minnesota Vikings and has plans to meet with the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots in the coming days. The Bills have offered an original round tender of $2.4 million to Bates and would be able to match any contract offered to Bates, though that could be difficult if the offer is
Bates could be particularly attractive to the Patriots, who already lost two starting guards this offseason in Ted Karras and Shaq Mason. The team was able to re-sign starting tackle Trent Brown, but The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn noted that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will likely be looking for more help. Bates is seen as one of the best available guards, and signing him would pull him away from a rival team.
“But between the draft and the next few waves of free agency, Belichick should have plenty of opportunity to find another piece for the offensive line,” Fairburn wrote. “That’s a more manageable situation than the team would have faced if Brown signed elsewhere.”
As Talbot noted, Belichick also has a history of taking restricted free agents away from the Bills, including wide receiver Chris Hogan and running back Mike Gillislee.
Bills Value Bates
Bills general manager Brandon Beane has hinted that the team may be willing to match an offer for Bates. In his end-of-year press conference, Beane gave credit to Bates for helping to spark a late-season surge in the running game. Bates moved into a starting role in Week 15, then held onto the job even as Jon Feliciano returned from injury. Bates was the team’s starter through both playoff games, while Feliciano was released following the end of the season.
After struggling to establish the running game through three-quarters of the season, the Bills broke out down the stretch. Due in part to some inclement weather at home, the team relied more heavily on running back Devin Singletary, who averaged 80 yards per game over the final four games of the season and scored five of his seven touchdowns during that stretch.
Beane hinted that the team wanted to keep Bates around next season.
“We definitely found a rhythm,” Beane said, via USA Today’s Bills Wire. “Something to build on, hopefully next year we won’t start out with a lull.”
Beane also spoke highly of the effect Bates had on teammate Dion Dawkins.
“I think Dion played some of his best football with Bates next to him,” Beane said.
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