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Bears agree to trade with Bills for OL Bates

Ryan Bates Buffalo Bills Ryan Bates - Getty Images

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Chicago Bears finally landed offensive lineman Ryan Bates.

The Bears have agreed to trade a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 27-year-old Bates. The teams announced the deal on Monday night.

The move is pending a physical, and it won't become official until the start of the NFL’s new business year on March 13.

Chicago tried to acquire Bates when he was a restricted free agent in 2022, signing him to an offer sheet. But the Bills retained Bates by matching the Bears’ $17 million, four-year contract offer.

Bates is entering his sixth NFL season. He is known for his versatility in being able to play various positions along the line.

Serving as a backup last season, he was limited to 35 snaps because Buffalo's offensive line stayed healthy throughout the season. That was a switch from 2022, when Bates made 15 starts, 13 at right guard and two more at center.

The Bears have three offensive linemen eligible for free agency next week, including starter Lucas Patrick and Cody Whitehair, whose playing time diminished over the final half of last season.

The trade allows the salary cap-strapped Bills to free up about $1.4 million in payroll. Buffalo began the offseason projected to be at an NFL-high $44 million over the cap entering 2024.

Bates was an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2019, and he was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Philadelphia that summer. He has 19 starts in 73 career games.