New England Patriots Rumors: Sign or pass on 3 free agent targets

Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Ryan Bates (71) Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Patriots free agent target No. 3: Ryan Bates

The first target we will talk about is Ryan Bates, and he has a bit of an interesting situation going on with the Buffalo Bills. Bates is a restricted free agent, and was offered an original round tender by the Bills, which would pay him $2.4 million for the 2022 season. While Bates is currently exploring his market, visiting with multiple teams, the Bills can choose to match the deal of an opposing team to keep him onboard.

Typically restricted free agents don’t draw such large markets, but Bates is in a unique situation. He’s been a key depth piece for the Bills o-line over the past three seasons, and he never really started until the end of the 2021 season when he took over for an injured Jon Feliciano. He held onto that job once Feliciano returned, which included a pair of solid playoff performances.

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Now Bates could be set to cash in, whether it be with Buffalo or someone else. Typically, signing opposing teams restricted free agents would result in draft pick compensation for the original team, but since Bates was undrafted, and the Bills only placed the original round tender, that wouldn’t be the case here. That’s the main reason the Patriots, as well as a couple teams, are interested in his services.

For the Patriots, the reason for interest is pretty clear cut. Even though they brought back Brown in free agency, they traded away Shaq Mason last week, and could use some depth on their o-line. Bates would profile as a high-quality backup, or even a potential starter if the Pats opt to use both Brown and Isaiah Wynn at the tackle positions.

Banking on Bates though could be a bit of a risky proposition, as the Bills could ultimately swoop in at the last minute and snatch him away. It remains to be seen what Buffalo would be willing to match for Bates, but a multi-year deal worth anywhere from $4-6 million may be enough to ensure the Bills wouldn’t match their offer.


The Bates situation is very fluid, but the Pats should atleast send an offer sheet his way. It’s also worth mentioning Bill Belichick wouldn’t go past $5 million per year for Ted Karras (who signed a three year, $18 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals) so it’s unlikely he’d top that number with Bates. It’s complicated, but if things line up right, Bates would be a solid depth piece on the o-line, and there’s no harm giving him an offer sheet on your terms, even if it gets matched.