Report: Bills RFA Ryan Bates has meetings with three teams

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The Buffalo Bills picked up the restricted free agent tender on offensive lineman Ryan Bates.

But things are getting a bit murky.

The Bills offered an original round tender of $2.4 million to Bates.

As per the NFL’s RFA rules, Buffalo can match any contract sent Bates’ way after doing so. In terms of clubs that might do that, there are three to monitor.

According to Pro Football Network, Bates already had a meeting with the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend.

There are no reported offer sheet yet to be sent to Bates after that chat, however, he will continue his travels.

Reportedly Bates will also speak with the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots in the coming days.

Bates, 25, has been a key depth piece along Buffalo’s offense line for a few years since being acquired via trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. That deal originally mostly had to do with his versatility to play every position on the offensive line, something the Bills still covet.

In 2021, Bates finally got his first dose of starting time.

In Week 15, he began starting at left guard for Buffalo. Even when former starter Jon Feliciano returned to full health, Bates still held onto the job into the playoffs.

The Bills did appear to be very impressed with Bates, as general manager Brandon Beane praised Bates at his end of season press conference. Specifically, Beane said Bates brought the best out of left tackle Dion Dawkins.

Pro Football Focus graded Bates out as the NFL’s 44th best guard overall last season when things were all said and done in 2021. That was higher than both Feliciano and Ike Boettger, who Bates replaced due to injury.

With Buffalo signing Rodger Saffold last week in free agency, Bates’ path to a starting spot with the Bills is less clear. Saffold indicated he would be starting at left guard for Buffalo next season.

But both Bates and Saffold have versatility to play all over the offensive line. If Bates were to return to the Bills, he and Saffold would likely be the favorites to start at the guard positions for the team in 2022.

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