How Ryan Bates trade changes what Bears GM Ryan Poles can do in upcoming draft

How Ryan Bates trade changes what Bears GM Ryan Poles can do in upcoming draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The 2024 NFL draft doesn’t start until the end of April, but Bears GM Ryan Poles has already used a pick to bolster the team’s offensive line. On Monday, Poles sent a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for backup lineman Ryan Bates.

Poles’ draft chest was already light this year thanks to the Montez Sweat, Dan Feeney and N’Keal Harry trades. Now he’ll only have five picks to make, pending other deals.

Here’s the full list of Bears draft picks as things currently stand:

-No. 1 overall (via Panthers)
-No. 9 overall
-No. 75 overall
-Fourth-round pick
-Fourth-round pick (via Eagles)

We don’t yet know exactly where the fourth-round picks and beyond will fall because the league has not assigned compensatory picks to teams yet. Those picks begin at the end of the third round.

The Bates trade could signal a few different things. To start, it could simply indicate the Bears were really, really interested in adding Bates to the team. Back in 2022, Poles signed Bates to a four-year contract, but Bates was a restricted free agent so the Bills had a chance to match the Bears offer sheet. They did, and Bates remained in Buffalo.

It could also indicate that the Bears aren’t hot on Day Three talent in this year’s draft. If they believe Bates is a higher-caliber player than anyone they would select from round five and beyond, it makes sense to use the pick to bring in Bates instead.

Or, Poles might have made the decision to trade away a pick knowing that he has other deals in the hopper to recoup draft capital. It’s been widely speculated that the Bears will trade away Justin Fields. Some believe they could trade down from their No. 9 pick to add more assets. Either move would bring in more than the fifth-rounder they gave up for Bates.

The Bears acquired the Panthers’ first-round pick in the deal that sent the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina last year. They got the Eagles’ fourth-rounder when the Eagles swapped spots with the Bears in last year’s draft to select Jalen Carter. The Bears’ second-round pick belongs to the Commanders due to the trade that brought Sweat to Chicago. The Bears sent their sixth-round pick to the Dolphins in exchange for Feeney and sent their seventh-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for Harry.

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