2 years later, Chicago Bears get their man in Ryan Bates. Could he be the answer to the issue at center?

Two years later, the Chicago Bears got their man.

The Bears announced Monday night they have agreed to trade a fifth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Ryan Bates. The trade is contingent on Bates passing a physical. It cannot become official until 3 p.m. March 13, the first day of the new league year.

The team originally tried to sign Bates as a restricted free agent in 2022 before the Bills matched the $17 million, four-year offer sheet. Bates has two years remaining on the terms of the deal the Bears wrote in March 2022 with a base salary of $3.4 million along with a roster bonus of $500,000 and a $100,000 workout bonus in 2024 and 2025.

The move could be the answer the Bears are seeking at the center position. While Bates has played more guard in the NFL, he has spent time at center and in Buffalo during the 2022 season they had him making line calls at times. Bates started at center for Buffalo in the Week 15 game at Soldier Field in 2022.

“I had full expectation I would be a Bear,” Bates told the Tribune after that game. “I am so fortunate for (GM) Brandon Beane and (coach) Sean McDermott to give me the opportunity to come back here. I wanted to be a Bill. I’m very fortunate to be where I am.

“Ryan Poles said they trusted me to come and do the job and they offered me a starter’s contract. I was fortunate that the Bills matched it.”

Bates started 19 games over five seasons in Buffalo, with 15 coming in 2022. He was a reserve this past season. He originally joined the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State. The Bears feel like they have a good scouting report on Bates as assistant general manager Ian Cunningham was in Philadelphia when Bates was beginning his career.

The Bears now own five picks in this year’s draft — two in the first round at No. 1 and No. 9 — a third-round pick (No. 75 overall) and two fourth-round picks, one coming from the Eagles. The back end of this draft class isn’t forecast to be particularly strong, so that probably made it easier for the Bears to deal a fifth-round pick for Bates. Missing a second-round pick, it was going to be hard to find a plug-and-play center in the draft.

The team can still add more draft capital, especially if it finds a taker for quarterback Justin Fields.