A lot of questions remain about how the offensive line will shake out for the Chicago Bears, but the new leadership at Halas Hall is hopeful Ryan Bates becomes the answer to one of those.
The Bears on Thursday signed Bates, a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills, to an offer sheet. That gives the Bills five days to match the contract or lose the lineman without compensation.
It’s a projection by the Bears as Bates has only four career regular-season and two postseason starts. They were not the only team to see potential in the former undrafted free agent out of Penn State, who also had visits with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. The Bills tendered Bates at the low level of $2.433 million, which gives them only the right of first refusal.
General manager Ryan Poles has pledged to upgrade the offensive line, and the Bears signed Green Bay Packers interior offensive lineman Lucas Patrick to a two-year, $8 million deal. They also signed veteran Dakota Dozier to a one-year contract. Patrick said he expects to play center.
The Bears need to replace right guard James Daniels, who left for the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency, and have to determine a plan at left tackle. Adding Bates would give them a potential starter at guard. Assistant general manager Ian Cunningham was with the Philadelphia Eagles when Bates signed as an undrafted free agent. The Eagles later traded Bates to the Bills.
The last time the Bears successfully landed a restricted free agent from another team was 2006, when they signed nickel cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. from the Carolina Panthers, a move that cost a third-round draft pick.
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