Ryan Bates

OL Rumors: Fins, Meinerz, Bates, Steelers

Addressing needs at left tackle and left guard, the Dolphins are turning their attention to center. GM Chris Grier plans to bring in competition for incumbent Michael Deiter, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins are looking to keep costs down here, Jackson adds, noting they are not currently on the radar for J.C. Tretter or Matt Paradis. Both have been center starters for the past several years but would qualify as replacements for Deiter rather than competition. Given Tretter’s performance in Cleveland, the NFLPA president looms as one of the top free agents available. Miami’s to-be-determined center will join Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Robert Hunt and either Austin Jackson or Liam Eichenberg on the team’s reconfigured O-line.

Here is the latest from the offensive line ranks:

  • Although the Patriots hosted Bills restricted free agent Ryan Bates, it does not appear they were competing with the Bears for his services. Unlike the Bears, the Pats did not extend Bates an offer sheet and, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the team was not overly interested. The Bills ended up matching the offer sheet to retain Bates. The Pats lost both 2021 guard starters — Ted Karras and Shaq Mason — this offseason. While swingman Michael Onwenu stands to take over at one of the positions, it is uncertain who will join he and longtime center David Andrews as the third interior man.
  • Quinn Meinerz did not open last season as a Broncos starter, but the Division III product looks set to do so in 2022. Nathaniel Hackett envisions Meinerz as the team’s starting right guard, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. “The sky is the limit” for Meinerz, said Hackett, who plans to keep Graham Glasgow‘s midseason replacement in the lineup. That leaves Glasgow’s role uncertain. The 2020 UFA addition has been the Broncos’ starting right guard when healthy over the past two seasons, but he played center for 16 games with the 2018 Lions. Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry has not missed a snap during his initial two NFL seasons, but Pro Football Focus graded the former third-rounder as the team’s worst O-line starter last season.
  • The Steelers signed James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency. Cole has primarily played center, while Daniels has played the position as a pro as well. Daniels has spent most of his NFL days at guard, and it is possible 2021 Steelers center Kendrick Green becomes the team’s other guard starter. Mike Tomlin is open to moving Green to guard, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required). A third-round pick last year, Green started 15 games as a rookie. PFF graded him as one of the league’s worst centers. A move to guard, where he spent most of his time at Illinois, could potentially open the door to improvement and threaten Kevin Dotson‘s starting role. Dotson, a 2020 fourth-rounder, opened the season as Pittsburgh’s left guard starter but missed eight games due to injury.
  • Zach Banner‘s Steelers exit stemmed from his 2020 ACL tear remaining a deterrent, Kaboly adds. Banner opened the 2020 season as the Steelers’ starting right tackle but suffered the tear in Week 1. The 6-foot-8 blocker played seven games last season, but Kaboly adds his knee never returned to form.

Bills To Match Ryan Bates Offer Sheet

After seeing restricted free agent Ryan Bates sign an offer sheet with the Bears, the Bills faced the decision of matching it or watching him leave for no compensation. Today, they have decided on the former course of action, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that the contract is worth $17MM over four years (Twitter link). He adds that the first two years (valued at just under $9MM) are guaranteed. 

[RELATED: Bates Signing Bears’ Offer Sheet]

Bates took over as the Bills’ starting left guard in Week 15 of this season, and held that role through to the end of the year and the playoffs. It was the most significant playing time of his three years in the NFL. Despite the limited workload he’s handled to date, his play down the stretch generated plenty of interest. The Bills tendered him at a rate of just over $2.4MM, leaving the door open to an offer sheet coming into play.

Bates visited with the Vikings, Patriots and Bears before ultimately signing an offer sheet with the latter. Chicago was looking to add to the interior of their line, having lost guard James Daniels to the Steelers earlier this offseason. Now, they will continue to search for a replacement in the second and third waves of the free agent market.

The Bills, meanwhile, are indeed able to retain one of their breakout players from last year. Some felt they should have tendered Bates at the second-round level to assure themselves of draft compensation, but now they have him under contract for the medium-term future.

Ryan Bates Signing Offer Sheet From Bears

After his impressive performance with the Bills down the stretch this past season, guard Ryan Bates was thought to be one of the most sought-after restricted free agents. It’s not surprising, then, that Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune reports (on Twitter) that he “intends to sign an offer sheet” from the Bears. 

Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson tweets that Bates is indeed signing with Chicago. As a result, the Bills now have five days to decide whether or not they will match the Bears’ offer. Bates, 25 was given an original-round tender of $2.433MM by Buffalo. Because he was a UDFA, however, the Bills would not receive any draft pick compensation should they decline to match (as opposed to, for instance, the second-round pick they would be in line for had they tendered him at just under $4MM).

Bates took over the starting left guard spot in Week 15 of the 2021 campaign, and held on to it for the remainder of the season. While his time as a starter was limited to that stretch, his play generated plenty of interest. It was reported last week that Chicago was among three teams – the others being the Vikings and Patriots – who met with the Penn State alum. It became clear early on in that process that an offer sheet was a distinct possibility.

Now, the Bills face a decision which wouldn’t have seemed likely after Bates’ first two (start-less) seasons in the NFL. Much of their next move will, of course, depend on the specifics of Chicago’s offer. In any event, this will remain a key storyline for both teams for the next few days.

Bills RFA Ryan Bates Visited Vikings; To Meet With Patriots, Bears

It appears one of the top candidates for an offer sheet this offseason is Bills guard Ryan Bates. The restricted free agent has visited with the Vikings, reports Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter). 

Bates, 25, was given an original-round tender by the Bills earlier this week, valued at $2.433MM. As a former UDFA, the Bills would be able to match any potential offers he receives. That could become very relevant, as Tommasson notes that the Vikings “have interest in extending an offer sheet”, after their meeting with Bates reportedly went well.

He adds that Bates has visits scheduled for next week with the Patriots and Bears. The Penn State product was a backup during the first two of his three seasons in the league, as well as much of the 2021 campaign. However, he stepped in as the starting left guard in Week 15, and never looked back.

In his 294 snaps played this year, PFF credits Bates with no sacks allowed and only one penalty committed. His ability to help fortify the Bills’ offensive front has generated not only a desire for Buffalo to hang on to him, but also plenty of outside interest, clearly.

After his visits with New England and Chicago – and any others which take place – there should be more clarity on what other teams are willing to offer him, and how far the Bills are willing to go to match.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/16/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender decisions from around the NFL:

RFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

AFC East Notes: Newton, Tua, Fins, Bills

The Patriots made a big splash last night when they signed former league MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract. The assumption is that Newton will be the team’s starting signal-caller, but Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Pats made no promises in that regard. Still, while there is technically an open competition between Newton and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, it would be stunning if Newton did not win the job (video link). Garafolo also points out that Newton still has to pass a physical, but the Patriots are confident he will do so.

Garafolo also passes along a fun fact (via Twitter): New England is the third team in NFL history to lose one MVP and sign another in the same offseason. The 2000 Dolphins parted ways with Dan Marino and brought in Thurman Thomas, and the 2005 Cardinals bid farewell to Emmitt Smith and signed Kurt Warner.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the belief that he will be the franchise signal-caller the team has been seeking for the past 20 years. He may not start right away, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes the southpaw will be put into the starting lineup at some point this season. While the 2020 Dolphins should be an improved squad over last year’s iteration, Miami is still probably at least a year away from playoff contention, so the team will have no reason to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for the entire campaign.
  • Miami is set at the LG and C spots with Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras, respectively. Beyond that, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are still undecided as to whether second-round rookie Robert Hunt would be a better fit at RG or RT in 2020. If Hunt gets a shot at RT and performs well, that could bump 2019 starter Jesse Davis back to the interior or to the bench. Meanwhile, Michael Deiter will compete for the starting RG and backup C slots.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are working out WR Gary Jennings in the slot — where he thrived in college — and on the outside. Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, but Seattle waived him in November and Miami scooped him up. He played in just one game for the ‘Fins before getting hurt, but his draft pedigree and upside will give him a good chance to make the club as the fifth or sixth WR.
  • In a minor trade last summer, the Bills acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Eagles in exchange for DE Eli Harold. Philadelphia subsequently cut Harold, but Buffalo hung on to Bates, who was active for nine games. Per Adam Caplan of InsideTheBirds.com, the Bills view Bates, a 2019 UDFA, as a viable right tackle, guard, and center, so they expect him to be a key backup in 2020 who may take on a bigger role down the road.
  • Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, meanwhile, views Bates as a potential trade candidate. Buscaglia also looks at a few other players that the Bills could put on the trade market, a list headed by WR Robert Foster and TE Jason Croom.

Eagles Trade OT Ryan Bates To Bills For DE Eli Harold

We’ve got a minor trade on our hands. The Eagles are sending offensive tackle Ryan Bates to the Bills for defensive end Eli Harold, the team announced on Twitter

Bates is a rookie undrafted free agent who grew up in Philly and played his college ball at Penn State. Unfortunately, he won’t be making a regular season homecoming. It’s rare for rookie undrafted free agents to get traded, but the Bills apparently see something they like in Bates. Heading into last season, many analysts saw him as a draftable player.

The Eagles have a pretty deep group of tackles, so Bates was unlikely to make the team anyway. In return for letting him go, the Eagles will now get to take a look at some possible pass-rushing depth. Harold was originally drafted in the third round by the 49ers back in 2015, and was traded to the Lions just before the start of last season.

After spending last year in Detroit, he signed a one-year pact with Buffalo earlier this offseason. He started 24 games for the 49ers between 2016 and 2017, and he had four sacks in a rotational role with the Lions last year. All told, he has nine career sacks in 61 games and 25 starts. It’s unlikely he’ll make too big of an impact for Philly, and he’ll be battling for a roster spot these next few weeks.

 

Eagles Sign Entire 2019 Draft Class, 10 UDFAs

The Eagles have moved quickly to not only wrap up their entire 2019 draft class, but announce their crop of undrafted free agents.

Draft Class

Philadelphia moved up to pick No. 22 to acquire Dillard, sending pick Nos. 25, 127, and 197 to Baltimore in order to get ahead of the Texans, who had their own needs along the offensive line. Many analysts viewed Dillard as the best offensive tackle available in the draft, especially given the number of pass sets he took in Washington State’s pass-happy offense. With the Eagles, he’ll likely act as a swing tackle in 2019 before moving into the starting lineup in 2020 (if Jason Peters ever decides to hang up his cleats).

Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside give quarterback Carson Wentz a few more weapons to play with in 2019. The Eagles acquired running back Jordan Howard from the Bears, but Sanders should also be in the mix for carries. Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside will give Philadelphia a big body at the receiver position, and could potentially lead to the Eagles trading former first-round pass-catcher Nelson Agholor.

Undrafted Free Agents

Among Philadelphia’s UDFAs, Opeta may have the best chance to stick given his contract. The Weber State product received a $55K base salary guarantee and a $25K signing bonus from the Eagles, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.