We Have A New Bear!

| March 5th, 2024

There’s a new Chicago Bear in town! As yesterday evening wound down, Ryan Poles sent a 5th round pick to Buffalo to get IOL Ryan Bates, the same Ryan Bates that Poles tried to sign to an RFA tender just two offseasons ago.

Bates brings with him athleticism (check RAS below) and experience at all three interior positions, most recently working at Center. Does that mean he’s Chicago’s future starting Center? Or is he a depth handcuff for Teven Jenkins (health) and Nate Davis (health & poor play)? We’ll find out next year, but either way I think the move works.

Cost wise, a 5th round pick isn’t nothing… but it’s not worth making a meal over either. The Bears’ latest 5th round pick (Noah Sewell) played a grand total of 27 defensive snaps as a rookie last year, a reminder of how hard it is for late-round rookies to contribute on the field quickly.

Assuming that Bates is slated for either the OL’s premiere backup role or a starting position at Center, this move suggests to me that Ryan Poles has prioritized the upcoming 2024 season — given Bates’ cheap 2-year contract, I can get behind that. Regardless of whether the front office rolls with the incumbent Justin Fields or a newly-drafted rookie QB, Chicago has lost the privilege of betting the health of their line’s interior on an inconsistent right-guard, an oft-injured left guard, and what is currently a gaping hole in the line’s center.

I appreciate the emphasis that this move places on trench depth, which Chicago has lacked for years — every OL is bound to suffer injuries (never forget that Dan Feeney took snaps last year), so I can understand the desire to secure a quality First-Lineman-Off-The-Bench. And while the move costs Chicago a 5th, thus leaving them without a pick in any of the draft’s final 3 rounds, I think this also signals that Chicago expects to recoup some picks in the draft’s later rounds through trading Justin Fields, trading down from #9, or both. Trading down from #1 is also possible, but I find it unlikely at this point in time.

Ultimately, I would be surprised if Ryan Poles was satisfied with his current draft hoard — expect a trade or two that’ll restock the late-round cupboards, even if each trade only moves the Bears down a few spots at a time. Remember, this is the same GM that milked a 2024 4th round pick out of the Eagles when drafting Darnell Wright, so any amount of trading is on the table.

I’ll see if I can’t take a look at some Bates film tomorrow — after all, it’s not like we have anything better to do while we wait for Free Agency Frenzy. But enough from me…

Your Turn: What do you think of the Bates move?

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