Bears taking aim at Bills guard Ryan Bates

A restricted free agent who started six games with the Bills last season — including both playoff games — the versatile Bates signed an offer sheet with the Bears. The Bills will have five days to match that offer.

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Ryan Bates (71, centering to MItch Trubisky against the Bears in the preseason) started six games at guard for the Bills last season, including both playoff games.

Ryan Bates (71, centering to MItch Trubisky against the Bears in the preseason) started six games at guard for the Bills last season, including both playoff games.

Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

General manager Ryan Poles continued to focus on revamping the Bears’ offensive line Thursday, signing Bills restricted-free-agent guard Ryan Bates to an offer sheet. The Bills will have five days to match it or allow Bates to sign with the Bears.

The 6-4, 302-pound Bates, who also visited the Vikings and Patriots, is the third offensive lineman Poles has signed in free agency. Previously, he signed Packers guard/center Lucas Patrick to a two-year, $8 million contract and Vikings reserve guard Dakota Dozier to a one-year contract.

Bates, 25, likely would get the first shot at a starting-guard position and, along with Patrick, would be a good early test of Poles’ ability to project offensive linemen. An undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Bates primarily had been a backup in three NFL seasons before starting the Bills’ last five games last season.

He started at right guard in Week 16 when Cody Ford went on the COVID-19 list and left guard in Week 17 after starter Ike Boetgger injured his Achilles. Bates played well enough that he kept the job when injured veteran Jon Feliciano returned late in the season. He started both of the Bills’ playoff games.

Though his five starts at the end of last season are a small sample size, the Bears know Bates well. Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham was the Eagles’ assistant director of player personnel in 2019, when they signed Bates as an undrafted free agent.

Late Thursday, former Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian agreed to a two-year deal with the Bears, according to his agent, Mike McCartney. Siemian has started 29 NFL games — he went 0-4 with the Saints last year — since being drafted by the Broncos in 2015.

Also, linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe signed with the Seahawks, reuniting with former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai.

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