On Monday, Bills offensive lineman Ryan Bates found out he was staying in Buffalo for four years after Bills GM Brandon Beane officially matched his offer from the Chicago Bears.
Bates was a restricted free agent, so Buffalo had the opportunity to match any offer he received from another team. The three-year player said he was torn after receiving a life-changing offer from the Bears not knowing if the Bills would do the same.
"It's something you can't really turn down," Bates said of Chicago's offer. "I come from a blue-collar family outside Philadelphia, and I've never seen that kind of money before in my life. You're torn. And along the way, I'm just trying to make the best decision for me and my family."
The offensive lineman said he received interest from multiple teams but ultimately wanted to stay in Buffalo to compete for a Super Bowl.
"I told Beane at the end of the season, I want to be a Bill and I want to stay in Buffalo," Bates shared. "And thankfully, it came to the conclusion where I get to stay in Buffalo for the next four years, which is an unbelievable opportunity. I've created a lot of relationships in my past three years in Buffalo and these next four I'm going to create even more, so just looking forward to it."
One reason the Penn State product didn't want to leave the Bills was because of the strong connections he's made in just three quick seasons.
"I created a lot of relationships, not only with the players, but the coaches as well," Bates said. "Me and Sean McDermott, I feel like we have a great relationship coming from the same area and growing up in the same area."
Bates has played an important role on the offensive line since coming to Buffalo. He has played in 41 games and started in four over the last three regular seasons and is looked at as a valuable piece because of his versatility. The Bills leaned on Bates toward the end of last season when he showed consistency after starting in three-straight games.
As he approaches a new year on a new contract, Bates is ready to compete for a starting spot and is thankful for the increased workload and learning from teammates like Dion Dawkins and Mitch Morse.
"The expectation for myself is I want to have a master understanding of the offense as a whole," Bates shared. "Not only what my job is but what formations are each play and learning what Josh's (Allen) reads are, trying to get a master understanding of everything. And of course, refining my techniques along the way, that's important as offensive linemen."
From being an undrafted free agent to getting traded to Buffalo during his first training camp, Bates agrees he has come a long way. After starting in the final five games to end the 2021 season and earning a four-year contract, he doesn't want to lose sight of the hard work that brought him to this moment.
"I'm not changing my mindset at all," Bates said. "Even though I might be getting paid more money, I'm still grinding. As an undrafted free agent the first three years, you're undrafted in the NFL until you prove otherwise. I think I've had the opportunity to prove otherwise.
"And I'm not going to change my mentality on how I attack every day and how I compete on the field."