LAKE FOREST – Lucas Patrick is coming to Chicago to play center.
The Bears’ newest offensive lineman can play guard or center, but he made it clear Friday at his introduction at Halas Hall – he’s coming here to snap the ball to quarterback Justin Fields.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot of forced relationship conversations,” Patrick said of the center-quarterback relationship. “Justin’s going to be pretty annoyed by me maybe, but no, it’ll be fun. It’s just going to work. We’re going to have to trust each other. Also, one of the good things about forming a good relationship is I’ll have to listen, because there’s a reason he was brought here and there’s a reason he is the player he is.”
Patrick’s arrival likely means Bears center Sam Mustipher, the starter for the past season and a half, is being demoted to a backup role. Patrick recently signed a reported two-year, $8 million contract, with $4 million guaranteed.
Patrick, 28, had been with the Packers since 2016. He is now flipping to the rival Bears and playing in a city he admitted he loves. Any time he had a long weekend, maybe after a Thursday night game, he and his wife would drive down and spend a night or two in the city.
He called the Packers and the Bears the “two most historic franchises” in the NFL.
“To go from one historic franchise to the historic franchise in the NFL, it’s Chicago, it speaks for itself,” Patrick said, in a comment that will certainly irk Packers fans. “That was too good to pass up.”
Patrick will reunite with new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who spent most of the last decade as a Packers assistant coach, most recently as the quarterbacks coach. Patrick said Bears left guard Cody Whitehair reached out to him within a half hour of his signing. He’s also already friends with long snapper Patrick Scales.
Patrick is fitting in nicely, too, with new Bears general manager Ryan Poles. At his introductory news conference, Poles said the Bears would “take the North and never give it back,” referring to the NFC North. Patrick said he has been on the winning side of the Bears-Packers rivalry, and he plans to stay on the winning side.
“I firmly believe to win a Bears-Packers game you’ve got to be physical, you’ve got to be tough and that’s what we’re going to do here,” Patrick said. “Typically, I feel like whoever wins those games takes the North and, like Ryan said, that’s the goal here. Take the North, get to the playoffs, get a shot at the Lombardi.”
Patrick’s arrival, particularly as a center, likely means the Bears aren’t done adding starting lineman. With former Bears right guard James Daniels departed for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bears have a hole at right guard.
Meanwhile, the team also introduced new inside linebacker Nicholas Morrow, who signed this week after five years with the Raiders. Morrow, 26, is coming here to play alongside linebacker Roquan Smith in head coach Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 defensive scheme.
“His resume speaks for itself,” Morrow said of Eberflus. “It’s in the tape, right? You see what he did in Indy, with the turnovers they had, the defense that they had together, and the staff they put together here.”
Morrow missed all of last season with a high ankle sprain, but is cleared now. He said he would’ve played in the divisional round of the playoffs if the Raiders had won their opening playoff game. The Bears haven’t told him whether he would play the “will” or the “mike” linebacker spot, but he expects to compete for a starting job. He has experience playing both spots.
Not present Friday was defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who failed his physical and will not sign with the team. It was a major disappointment for a player who the Bears thought would be their top new addition. Bears general manager Ryan Poles was not available to answer questions Friday.