Bears trade draft pick for veteran offensive lineman Ryan Bates
Rich Barnes - USA Today Sports

Bears trade draft pick for veteran offensive lineman Ryan Bates

by - Senior Writer -

Well, that was a bit unexpected. With Free Agency right around the corner and the potential for the Bears to be aggressive for the second straight offseason, the Bears kicked things off on the right foot as they came together with the Buffalo Bills to pull off a trade. As part of the deal, the Bears will send a fifth-round pick to the Bills in exchange for OL Ryan Bates.

Anytime you can get any contributing player for a fifth-round pick, it is a win-win for both parties. The Bills will add another pick to their draft capital while the Bears pick up some much-needed offensive line depth. Bates has been linked to the Bears for several years, as Chicago initially signed him to an offer sheet back in 2022.

However, the Bills matched the Bears' offer, and Bates wound up signing a four-year, 17-million dollar contract with Buffalo. Here we are two years later, and not only does Poles get the guy the Bears tried to get before, but he gets him for a fifth-round pick with two years of control remaining. Talk about a home run trade for Poles, as this will help Chicago both in the long and short-term solutions.

The 27-year-old Bates has been a busy man, playing in 73 games with the Bills. Most of those have come in more of a backup role, but he has logged 19 career starts. This past season was a down year for Bates, who may not have made a start, but he did play in all 17 games, which shows that he had a regular role on the offensive line.

Keep in mind that the offensive line was tasked with protecting Josh Allen and the high-powered Bills offense, so in order to be counted on as much as he was, you have to be a good player. The biggest takeaway from seeing him in all 17 games was that most of the time he spent on the field was in mop-up duty, as he saw just 35 snaps this season.

Ironically, the 2022 season was the one that had everyone talking when the Bears tried to land him in the first place. During that season, Bates made a career-high 15 starts and played 947 snaps. Most of those snaps were at offensive guard (810), but he also played center (137). That makes nearly 200 snaps at C the past few seasons, and for a team in desperate need of a center, you understand why this trade was made.

With Cody Whitehair now a free agent, joined by Lucas Patrick and Dan Feeney, the Bears have no answers for the Center position going into the offseason, which is an issue for this team. Sure, they could always draft a center or even go after a free-agent center, but this is the best way to go unless you want to break the bank.

By making this move, Chicago is not only adding an experienced player with multiple years of team control left on his contract but also getting a player with center experience who the team could count on once camp breaks. Should that not work, Bates also has plenty of experience at the guard position, giving the Bears offensive line another versatile piece.

Struggles aside for the entire offensive line, one thing they love to have is versatile pieces, and Bates is another one of those pieces. He will bring flexibility to a group that could use it and will also fill the one glaring hole this team has on the offensive line. With the new year set to begin March 13, this deal can't become official until that day, but Bates must also pass his physical before officially becoming part of the Bears family.

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