Buffalo Bills Restricted Free Agent Ryan Bates met with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, according to the Star-Tribune. According to Darren Wolfson of KSTP in the Twin Cities, he left Minnesota to visit with the New England Patriots.
The Bills used the RFA tender for the Right of First Refusal on Bates. If he signs a contract, Buffalo will be able to match it. If they choose not to match the deal, Bates leaves with no compensation for Buffalo. The RFA tender basically allows Bates to set the market as a free agent.
During the first two years of his career with the Bills, 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 guards Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano. They have Rodger Saffold on a one-year deal and Cody Ford finish his rookie contract this year, as well.
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