The new leadership for the Chicago Bears has made moves with the team.
While fans might question some moves, they have welcomed others.
They have traded Khalil Mack and released many players that were critical to the team.
However, they used free agency to pick up some players for the Bears’ offense.
Byron Pringle brings the team a multidimensional player that replaces the release of Tarik Cohen.
Lucas Patrick will help an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks last year.
Leadership would then go after Ryan Bates to help shore up the offensive line for 2022.
However, they would come up short, missing out on Bates in free agency.
Bates Was A Restricted Free Agent
With Bates, the Bears had to compete with his current team, the Buffalo Bills.
They had the chance to match any offer that the Bears extended to him.
The Bills would take advantage of that chance and match the Bears’ offer.
The #Bills will match the RFA offer sheet for OT Ryan Bates, per GM Brandon Beane. It’s a 4-year deal for Bates.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 28, 2022
Bates’ contract with the Bills is worth $17 million over the next four years.
Some people thought the Bears offer was just enough to keep the Bills from matching it.
If the #Bears play their cards right – and it’s looking like they are – they should be able to sign Ryan Bates.
My guess is they structured the contract in a way that has a higher cap hit in 2022 than what the Bills want to pay for a backup OL.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) March 28, 2022
However, they were wrong as the Bills matched the offer.
The offer was at a cost of pushing them to the limit on their cap space for 2022.
Had Bates not been a restricted free agent, the Bears might have snagged him.
Signing Bates would have been a tremendous improvement for the Bears offensive line in 2022.
Why Was Bates So Important For The Bills To Keep?
Bates only started six games during the 2021-22 NFL season.
The starts were in the regular season and playoffs.
Including the playoffs Josh Allen was pressured 264 times in 2021 (2nd most)
Ryan Bates became a starter in week 16
-Allen pressured 208 times (most)
-14.9 per game
Weeks 16-Div RD
-Allen pressured 56 times (5th most)
-11.2 per game#Bills #BillsMafia #GoBills
— Anthony Cover 1 (@Pro__Ant) April 1, 2022
In those six games, Bates was impressive.
He only had one penalty and allowed zero sacks in the six games he played.
The Bills and Bears saw more than statistics with Bates’ performance last season.
He can prove more than just discipline and protection on the front line.
Bates brought versatility to the front line, as he can play all five positions on the offensive line.
These things made it important for the Bills to re-sign him for 2022 and beyond.
What Is Next For The Bears Now They Have Missed Out On Bates?
The offensive line is a point the Bears need to address this season.
While Patrick helps the line, he can’t do it alone.
Cody Whitehair will return to Chicago this year and he expected to be switching to left guard.
He is a solid lineman for the Bears and his return helps with a line the team wants to improve.
That now leaves three other offensive line positions that need improving.
The Bears could go the free agency route again to address these needs.
Former Bears guard Kyle Long is still available on the market.
Left tackle Nate Solder also has yet to be signed by any team.
If they don’t like those options, they can look to the NFL Draft.
They can still work with their draft picks, even though they don’t have a pick until the second round.
Darian Kinnard could be an option in the later rounds of the draft.
No matter what the Bears do, they need to fix their line for 2022 to protect Justin Fields.