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2022 NFL Free Agency: Bills tender OG Ryan Bates, but not DT Justin Zimmer

Because he went undrafted, the Bills can match any offer Bates receives

The Buffalo Bills have tendered Restricted Free Agent Ryan Bates but allowed Justin Zimmer to become an Unrestricted Free Agent. Both moves were expected.

The Bills offered Bates an original-round tender ($2.433 million), so they can match any offer he receives.

During the first two years of his career with the Buffalo Bills, Ryan Bates was known for his ability to play multiple positions along the offensive line, but outside of a Week 4 start, Bates didn’t log many meaningful snaps for the Bills.

That all changed in Week 15 when Bates, a former undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, was inserted as Buffalo’s starting left guard for good.

Bates brought stability to the Bills’ offensive line, and his consistent play earned the praise of head coach Sean McDermott. Thanks in part to Bates’s presence, Buffalo rediscovered its success running the football down the stretch en route to clinching a second straight AFC East title.

The Bills certainly won the 2019 trade with the Eagles, when Buffalo shipped out journeyman linebacker Eli Harold in exchange for Bates. While Harold never played again with his new team, Bates emerged as a potential starter with the Bills last year and just turned 25 years old.

Bates played 25% of Buffalo’s snaps in the regular season, including at least 93% during the final three weeks of the regular season. In the playoffs, Bates took 100% of Buffalo’s snaps at left guard.

All told, Bates only committed one penalty last year, late in the third quarter of a Week 18 win over the New York Jets.

Keeping Bates in the fold makes sense for a Buffalo offensive line that on Monday parted ways with former starting right guard Daryl Williams in a move that saved the team $6.3 million while creating a hole along the offensive line.

Zimmer had knee surgery during the season and won’t be healthy for a while. We won’t rule out a return for him later in the offseason when he can pass a physical.

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