Bills Re-Sign Injured Guard, Make Final Decision on OT Ryan Bates

Ike Boettger, Ryan Bates

Getty The Buffalo Bills re-sign offensive lineman Ike Boettger (L) and make a deal with offensive tackle Ryan Bates (R).

The Buffalo Bills officially announced on Monday, March 28, that they were re-signing offensive lineman Ike Boettger. While Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs immediately reacted to Boettger’s return by tweeting, “My Guyyy,” analysts and fans had strongly mixed reactions to the news, mostly wondering what this meant for possibly re-signing offensive tackle Ryan Bates.

While many assumed that Boettger’s new contract meant the end of Bates’ tenure in Buffalo, within an hour of Boettger inking his deal, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Bills will match the RFA offer sheet for OT Ryan Bates, per GM Brandon Beane. It’s a 4-year deal for Bates.”

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Eventhough the undrafted free agent, who first signed with the Bills in 2019, was mostly a backup over the three seasons, Bates started the final three games of the 2021 NFL regular season due to injuries to guards Jon Feliciano and Boettger.

ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg and Courtney Cronin wrote of the 25-year-old offensive lineman, “While injuries led to him taking the field, Bates maintained the starting job for the end of the season and playoff run due to his performance alongside left tackle Dion Dawkins. For the season, Bates had a 93% pass block win rate at guard, which hovers around league average, and a 59% run block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.”


The Bills Needed to Make a Final Decision on Bates By Tuesday

On March 24, Getzenberg and Cronin reported that Buffalo offered an original-round tender of $2.4 million on Bates, but he gained significant interest including visits with the Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and New England Patriots.

Buffalo had the right to match any contract offer for Bates, but there was worry that Chicago’s offer would be too high for the Bills to match. The Bills had to decide on what to do with the 6-foot-4, 302-pound offensive guard by Tuesday, March 29.

Bears reporter Biggs tweeted on Monday, “The 4-year contract for Ryan Bates – the offer sheet he signed with the #Bears – is for $17 million and the first two years (about $8.8M) are fully guaranteed from what I am told.”

If Biggs’ report is accurate, then Bills general manager Brandon Beane worked some more crazy magic to make this contract work under the salary cap.


Boettger’s Injury Status Is Worrisome

Boettger, who first joined Buffalo as an undrafted rookie in 2018, made 10 starts during the 2021 NFL season. Unfortunately, his season was cut short during the Bills’ 33-21 win over the New England Patriots on December 26, when the 27-year-old suffered a ruptured Achilles.

The left guard was pushed backward while trying to block Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale. After Ekuale ditched Boettger to tackle Bills running back Devin Singletary, Boettger tried to walk forward before he started hopping on his right foot and falling to the ground.

What’s worrisome about re-signing Boettger, is that it remains unknown if he’ll be available to play when the 2022 NFL season starts. “At this time there is no update on what Boettger’s level of readiness will be for training camp or the regular season,” the Bills’ statement read on Monday.

The December injury marked the second time in Boettger’s career that he suffered a ruptured Achilles. Recovery following surgery takes roughly six to nine months, according to The Stone Clinic. During Boettger’s redshirt senior year at Iowa, he tore his right Achilles in Week 2 of the 2017 season, per SB Nation.

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