The Buffalo Bills have traded defensive end Eli Harold to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for offensive lineman Ryan Bates, the team reports. The Bills dealt from a position of strength, where they have five or six roster-worthy defensive ends, to address offensive line depth—an area that’s been challenged with a host of injuries throughout training camp.
Harold, 25, had signed a one year, $895,000 contract with the Bills a few weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft. Once training camp sorted out the depth chart, it became increasingly clear that Harold wouldn’t be able to make the active roster. Behind the starting rotation of Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and Shaq Lawson, the team had two promising youngsters in Mike Love and Darryl Johnson.
Bates, 22, is a rookie who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles after graduating from Penn State. The 6’4” 302-lb Bates played in 37 career games, with twelve starts. Nine of those starts were at left tackle, and three at right tackle. Bates turned in an exceptional workout at the NFL Combine, with great times in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, and short shuttle. He also had an above-average bench press, with 28 reps.
The Bills had a serious need for a swing tackle, especially with Ty Nsekhe cementing himself into the lineup and Conor McDermott on the mend. Bates can compete for that opportunity alongside McDermott, Garrett McGhin, and the rest of Buffalo’s depth linemen. Given his size profile, Bates could also train as an interior lineman. His versatility is likely what spurred the Bills to trade for him.