Ryan Poles is clearly not done tinkering with the Bears offensive line. According to the Chicago Tribune, Buffalo Bills restricted free agent Ryan Bates is set to meet with the Bears this week.
Bates initially joined the league as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles in 2019, but a few months after signing with Philadelphia, he was traded to Buffalo. He appeared in eight games as a rookie, but played in all 16 games for the Bills in 2020, and all 17 in 2021. Bates made his first career start in Week 4 as an extra eligible tackle, but then started at right guard in Week 16, before finishing as the team’s starting left guard from Week 17 through the postseason.
The Bears aren’t the only team interested in Bates, however. According to multiple reports, Bates met with both the Vikings and Patriots before visiting the Bears. The Bills have also tendered Bates, and as a restricted free agent they have an opportunity to match any contract offer he receives to keep him in Buffalo. So, unless Poles values Bates significantly more than those other teams, he could end up elsewhere.
Either way, Poles’ interest in Bates shows he’s not done adding to the Bears OL unit. The team has already signed Lucas Patrick and opted to let James Daniels leave in free agency. Last week, Patrick revealed he believes the Bears want him to play center, not guard, so the team still needs to find Daniels’ replacement at right guard. It’s still unclear whether Poles wants to move forward with Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom at the tackle positions, too.