I want to preface this by saying I WANT to be optimistic regarding Ryan Bates signing with the Bears.
And while this isn’t necessarily a confirmation from the Tribune’s Brad Biggs on Friday’s visit with 670 The Score’s Mike Mulligan and David Haugh, it sure sounds like the Bears could ultimately end up snatching Bates from Buffalo:
#Bears are hopeful that by Tuesday, they'll have added O-lineman Ryan Bates, a restricted free agent whom Bills could retain by matching Bears' offer sheet.
"There's probably a good chance that the Bills decline it," @BradBiggs says.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) March 25, 2022
While I’ve never been fond of the waiting game, the suspense between the execution of an offer sheet to a restricted free agent and when the announcement if it is matched or not has its moments. And if the Bears have put together a competitive offer sheet for the Bills offensive lineman, it could make for mixed feelings of relief and excitement.
Biggs goes on to mention how the contract structure could ultimately seal the deal in this case. For instance, a front-loaded from Chicago could be challenging for Buffalo to match. The Bills are $49,120 million *OVER* the cap, according to OverTheCap.com’s calculations. And while they could still move money around to accommodate Bates’ return, the Bills would do so at the expense of future cap issues. Bringing Bates back could also crowd Buffalo’s offensive line. And if they like him enough, I imagine they’d certainly make arrangements to get him back. But if the Bears’ contract structure pays Bates starter money, then it could put the Bills in a situation to say “thanks, but no thanks” to matching the offer sheet.
Nevertheless, the plot thickens. The Bears could have a new offensive lineman in their grasp by Tuesday. If it happens, we’ll definitely dive into the ramifications of putting a new lineman in the middle. In the meantime, we continue to wait it out.