Lucas Patrick

Saints To Sign OL Lucas Patrick

New Orleans’ offensive line has seen a number of changes this offseason, but the team is set to make an addition up front. The Saints will sign veteran Lucas Patrick on Monday, per his agents (via Nick Underhill of New Orleans.Football).

Patrick spent his first five seasons in Green Bay before making the intra-divisional move to the Bears in 2022. Over the past two years, the 30-year-old has logged 20 starts in 23 appearances. That includes 15 starts in 16 games in 2023, matching Patrick’s largest single-season workload in his career.

The former UDFA saw time at both guard spots in 2022, but last season he served exclusively at the center position. Patrick’s PFF evaluation was in line with his previous campaigns in terms of run blocking, but his pass protection was rated much poorer. That led to an overall grade of just 50.5, something which helps explain how he remained on the open market well after the draft.

Chicago has invested up front during the past two years, and the team’s moves in 2023 make it little surprise Patrick will not be returning. The Duke alum met with the Seahawks in April, making him one of several veteran interior O-linemen the team checked in on. Instead of heading to the Emerald City, though, Patrick will join a Saints team which is in need of starting-caliber options at multiple spots.

The left tackle spot is a question mark with Trevor Penning struggling early on in his career (although 2024 first-rounder Taliese Fuaga could step in on the blindside as a rookie). Longtime RT starter Ryan Ramczyk faces an uncertain future based on his knee issues. Andrus Peat was an option at both tackle spots while representing a guard option, but he recently signed with the Raiders. Patrick will look to at least replace Peat’s potential as a guard starter.

New Orleans has Erik McCoy on the books through 2027, so he is positioned to continue serving as the team’s center starter. The Saints also have guard Cesar Ruiz attached to a lucrative deal. Patrick could compete with offseason addition Shane Lemieux for a starting position at the opposite guard spot or provide the team with a veteran backup across the three interior positions.

Seahawks Host OL Lucas Patrick

The Seahawks continue to monitor the free agent OL market. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston, the team worked out Lucas Patrick today.

[RELATED: Seahawks To Meet With G Greg Van Roten]

The veteran lineman is coming off a 2023 campaign where he started 15 games at center for the Bears. Pro Football Focus only graded him 30th among 36 qualifying centers. The former UDFA out of Duke spent the first five seasons of his career in Green Bay, alternating between key backup and starter. He started 28 of his 33 appearances during his final two years in Green Bay, spending time at both center and guard.

It’s that versatility that’s probably more attractive to the Seahawks. The team has been hunting around for some reinforcement at guard after losing Damien Lewis to the Panthers and letting Phil Haynes sit unsigned in free agency. The organization recently hosted Greg Van Roten on a visit, and they were previously connected to potential interest in Laken Tomlinson and Cody Whitehair.

The team did bring in Tremayne Anchrum for some guard depth, pairing him with 2023 fourth-round pick Anthony Bradford. The Seahawks will surely look to further address the position at some point, with the draft remaining an option.

Bears Place C Lucas Patrick On IR

The Bears have placed starting center Lucas Patrick on injured reserve, ending his 2023 NFL season a day early. Obviously, this doesn’t mean much as Patrick will only miss one game and Chicago is already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The move is a common one seen this week as many teams will utilize IR to help lock promising practice squad players down on active roster contracts.

For the Bears, that player seems to be practice squad cornerback Greg Stroman. With Patrick vacating a spot on the active roster, Stroman has signed to the 53-man squad for this week. In two years with the Bears, Stroman has appeared in nine games, making two starts. In each of those two starts, Stroman has recorded an interception. With Stroman now on the active roster, Chicago will have an opportunity to keep him away from free agency in the offseason, essentially guaranteeing him another year with the Bears, if that’s what they agree to.

With Patrick unavailable, practice squad center Doug Kramer has been called up as a standard gameday elevation to provide some depth on the interior offensive line. Joining Kramer as a one-week elevation will be cornerback Christian Matthew.

Bears Activate G Teven Jenkins From IR

OCTOBER 5: Jenkins will be this season’s first IR activation. Despite being designated for return three days before a Thursday-night game, Jenkins will come off IR in time for the Bears’ matchup with the Commanders, Mike Garafolo of tweets. This will be welcome news for a Bears team that has seen three starting O-linemen — Jenkins, Jones and Davis — miss multiple games. Jones remains on Chicago’s IR but will be a candidate to follow Jenkins back onto the active roster down the road.

This activation will shake up the Bears’ O-line. Cody Whitehair, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley, will likely return to the center position he played earlier in his career — the team’s plan upon signing Davis this offseason — while Jenkins is shifting from right guard to left guard to accommodate the ex-Titan. Center Lucas Patrick will be on track to return to a backup role.

OCTOBER 2: Teams can begin opening practice windows for players on IR and the PUP list this week. The Bears will do so with one of their starting offensive linemen.

Suffering an injury during the preseason, Teven Jenkins went on IR just after the Bears finalized their initial 53-man roster. This allowed them to make the young blocker one of their in-season activations. It looks like Jenkins will be in play to return soon, with Matt Eberflus confirming (via the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley) the interior starter is now designated for return.

Designating a player to return from IR means a 21-day practice window is opened. This transaction means the Bears have three weeks to decide on Jenkins, who will either be activated in that span or revert to season-ending IR. With this unspecified leg injury never expecting to end his season, it should be assumed the former second-round pick will return at some point in October. With the Bears having a Thursday-night tilt, it would not surprise if Week 6 became the Jenkins target date.

After struggling as a tackle, Jenkins broke through at guard last season. He graded as a top-10 guard, in the view of Pro Football Focus, despite moving to the post during the 2022 offseason. The Oklahoma State alum returning would certainly help the Bears, who are 0-4 and have seen other availability issues plague them up front. Left tackle Braxton Jones is on IR as well, while free agent pickup Nate Davis has missed two games.

Teams have eight in-season IR activations at their disposal. Players must miss four games upon being placed on IR, but they can now be activated from the injured list twice. From 2020-21, teams enjoyed unlimited IR activations. Opting for a middle ground between the pandemic-era format and the stricter setup of previous eras, the NFL settled on eight in 2022. For Jenkins, this marks his second NFL injury hiatus. He missed much of his 2021 rookie season due to a back injury.

OL Notes: Smith, Texans, Rams, Bears

The Cowboys are going with a “best five” configuration up front, shifting course months after Jerry Jones discussed a plan of keeping Tyler Smith at tackle. Smith is back at guard, but he may not be a lock to start the season on time. The second-year blocker suffered a hamstring strain, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Jones expects Smith to play in Week 1; the 2022 first-round pick did not miss a game last season. Dallas has lost its starting left guard in free agency in each of the past two offseasons, seeing Connor Williams and Connor McGovern defect to the AFC East.

One of the backup options, Josh Ball, is on IR. Ball is battling hip and groin pain, and the Morning News’ Michael Gehlken notes he is expected to miss around two months. A 2021 fourth-rounder, Ball is not expected to need surgery. The Cowboys kept eight O-linemen, with rookies Asim Richards and T.J. Bass joining Chuma Edoga as backups.

Here is the latest from NFL O-lines:

  • Texans right tackle Tytus Howard returned to practice earlier this week, working out with a cast on his injured left hand. While the fifth-year lineman is on the verge of returning, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes George Fant is expected to play in place of Howard in Week 1. Howard, who signed a Texans extension in July, underwent surgery to repair a broken hand in early August. Fant worked as a regular Jets starter — at left and right tackle — throughout the 2020 and ’21 seasons; injuries limited him to seven games last year.
  • Josh Jones filled in for D.J. Humphries as the Cardinals’ left tackle last season, but the recently traded blocker is back at guard. The Texans have Jones in place as their starting left guard going into the season, Wilson tweets. Jones is replacing 2022 first-rounder Kenyon Green, who is on season-ending IR. Jones spent the 2021 season as a primary Cardinals starting guard. The Texans will also be without center Juice Scruggs to start the season; the second-rounder is on short-term IR with a hamstring injury.
  • The Rams gave Joseph Noteboom a three-year, $40MM deal to replace Andrew Whitworth in 2022, but after another season-ending injury, Whitworth’s would-be heir apparent lost his job. The Rams are going with Alaric Jackson at left tackle, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, who adds Noteboom is back at guard (subscription required). Noteboom worked at guard early in his career and was mentioned as a guard option this offseason, but he had played on the outside since becoming Los Angeles’ swing tackle in 2020. The Rams also added Kevin Dotson from the Steelers, and while Dotson has started 30 career games (including 17 last year), Rodrigue adds the team views him as a depth piece. A former UDFA, Jackson started six games last season before becoming one of the many Ram blockers forced off the field due to health issues. Blood clots ended Jackson’s 2022 slate.
  • Previously set to shift back to center, Cody Whitehair is at guard to start his eighth Bears season. Teven Jenkins‘ injury will shift Whitehair to left guard and Lucas Patrick to center, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Recent trade acquisition Dan Feeney is in place as Chicago’s backup center. Jenkins is on IR to start the season. Whitehair spent the past four seasons at guard but began his career with three slates at center. Patrick has played both guard and center. The 2022 free agency addition was ticketed to start at center last season, but injuries limited the ex-Packer to seven games.

NFL Roster Rumors: Cowboys, Green, Bears, Mann, Smith

The Cowboys‘ offensive line remains a strength heading into the 2023 season. The depth of the offensive line is a different story, though. Behind the starting five, there is a drastic drop in talent, leading Jon Machota of The Athletic to believe that Dallas may pursue adding some offensive line talent from outside the organization before the start of the season.

Currently, the Cowboys’ offensive line depth projected to make the initial 53-man roster is comprised of tackles Matt Waletzko and Asim Richards and linemen Josh Ball, Matt Farniok, and Chuma Edoga. Dallas’ offensive line is likely strong enough along the starting five to weather the temporary need to play a backup, but if the team has to rely on any of the bottom five long-term, it would be a tremendous drop off in production wherever the backup is plugged in.

The situation in Dallas may not be drastic enough to require a trade acquisition, but the Cowboys will likely be perusing the open market once the roster cut deadline rolls around.

Here are a few more roster rumors as the close of the preseason continues:

  • The Steelers embarked on an experiment akin to that of their division rivals in Maryland as they attempted to work center Kendrick Green into a fullback/tight end role a la Patrick Ricard of the Ravens. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the move was a result of Green getting buried on the depth chart of the offensive line. As Green slipped down to third-string center or fourth-team guard, Pittsburgh allowed him to fully pursue the Ricard-role he had simulated in game prep for Ravens matchups. Unfortunately, the magic wasn’t there for Green. A later Kaboly report informed that Green had been moved back to center and that, as low as he is on the depth chart, he’ll likely have trouble retaining a roster spot come next Tuesday.
  • Although starting offensive guard Teven Jenkins continues to struggle with staying healthy, it doesn’t appear that the Bears will pursue offensive line help for the upcoming season, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. While it wouldn’t be an ideal outcome, Chicago feels confident in the backups it has available. Former first-round pick Alex Leatherwood has a year of the system under his belt now and should provide some quality depth immediately behind Jenkins. The Bear will likely retain other quality backups like Larry Borom and Lucas Patrick who could fill in if Leatherwood struggles in injury replacement duties. Whatever the options, Chicago feels confident with its cache of linemen.
  • The Eagles are set to head into the 2023 season with Arryn Siposs retaining punting duties for the third consecutive season. After he suffered a serious ankle injury late last year, though, Philadelphia didn’t shy away from attempting to bring in some competition for Siposs. The team had submitted a waiver claim for former Jets punter Braden Mann before he was awarded to the Steelers. If the Eagles are still interested in adding depth at punter before the start of the season, Mann is unlikely to beat out Pressley Harvin III in Pittsburgh, so he may be available after roster cuts, according to Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network.
  • Newly acquired linebacker Jaylon Smith has found a renewed drive in New Orleans. The veteran has already worked his way up the Saints‘ depth chart to a battle for the third linebacker spot. While that sounds positive, the Saints defense rarely utilizes three linebackers on the field at the same time with the team placing more value on additional pass rushers or defensive backs. According to John Sigler of USA Today, head coach Dennis Allen has delineated that a special teams role is the key for Smith to find a path towards a roster spot. While Smith has provided a boost to the team’s linebacker depth, his new head coach wants to see him covering punt and kickoff returns in order to cement his place on the 53-man roster.

NFC North Notes: Hooker, Bears, OL, Packers

Hendon Hooker‘s age (25) likely served as one of the factors for his fall into Round 3. The ACL tear the Tennessee product sustained in November undoubtedly led to him tumbling out of the second round, his widely viewed floor. The Lions now have a developmental quarterback who, despite being drafted seven years after Jared Goff, is barely three years younger than the Detroit starter. Dan Campbell did not view Hooker’s age as a major issue.

We did go into this offseason saying that we wanted to bring in some competition at quarterback,” Campbell said during an appearance on Green Light with Chris Long podcast (h/t Pro Football Talk). “We didn’t know exactly where that might be, who that would be at the time, but we did like Hooker. We knew he was coming off the injury, but there was something about him that was appealing. He’s very mature; he looks the part; he’s got a big arm. H’s just got to learn to play in the NFL. He’s a pro, now, and I like the fact that he was older. We all kind liked the fact that he was older. I think you want your quarterback to be more mature.”

The Lions have begun discussions on a Goff extension. For now, the third-year Detroit starter is tied to his Rams-constructed deal that runs through 2024. Although Hooker should not be viewed as an heir apparent just yet, his rookie deal runs through 2026. Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Bears are set to hold a center competition between Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick. GM Ryan Poles said he is comfortable with either the longtime guard — who began his NFL career as a center — or the 2022 free agency pickup at center, Courtney Cronin of tweets. Whitehair, 31 in July, has started 107 games for the Bears, who drafted him in the 2016 second round. He spent the first three seasons of his career at center and has been on the radar to move since the Nate Davis free agent signing. A two-year Packers starter, Patrick started only five Bears games during an injury-plagued 2022 season.
  • Chicago will also move Teven Jenkins from right guard to left guard, Cronin adds (on Twitter), to accommodate Davis. The free agent pickup worked as the Titans’ starting right guard from 2019-22. Jenkins will soon move to a fourth O-line position. The Bears tried him at both tackle spots and dangled him in trade talks last year, but they saw the 2021 second-rounder show promise at guard last season. The other new Bears full-timer up front last season, Braxton Jones, is not moving from left tackle. Despite the addition of first-rounder Darnell Wright, Bears O-line coach Chris Morgan said (via Cronin) the team will keeping Jones at left tackle going into training camp. Wright logged more starts at right tackle (27) than left tackle (13) at Tennessee.
  • Set to hold their rookie minicamp later this week, the Lions will arrange for XFL return man Darrius Shepherd to try out. The XFL announced Shepherd, who also caught 48 passes for 519 yards with the St. Louis BattleHawks this season, will attend the Lions’ rookie camp. The 27-year-old wideout, a former UDFA out of North Dakota State, played for the Packers from 2019-20 but did not see NFL game action over the past two years.
  • One of the signees from this year’s International Pathway Program, the PackersKenneth Odumegwu, has never played organized football, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic tweets. The program, which expanded to two divisions (NFC North, AFC West) for the first time this year, provides an extra practice squad spot for an international player.

Bears’ Lucas Patrick To Miss Rest Of Season

Injuries will end up bookending Lucas Patrick‘s first Bears season. The veteran interior lineman became eligible to return from IR this week, but Matt Eberflus confirmed no injury activation will take place.

Patrick underwent toe surgery during his time on IR, and Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes the Bears are shutting down the free agent acquisition for the season’s remainder. This will wrap the fifth-year blocker’s initial Chicago campaign at just seven games (five starts).

The Bears doled out a host of low-cost contracts this offseason, making Patrick’s two-year deal worth $8MM stand out to some degree. The ex-Packers starter followed OC Luke Getsy to the Bears and was expected to be the team’s starting center. Injuries intervened. Patrick suffered a thumb injury early in training camp, and while he returned in time to start the season, the Bears’ plans for him did not come to fruition.

Patrick, 29, played guard for much of the season, seeing the thumb problem lead the Bears to delay his move back to the snapping role. He only returned to center for the team’s Week 7 win over the Patriots. Ten snaps into that game, Patrick went down with the toe malady. That led Sam Mustipher, whom the team was previously starting at center, back into action. Weeks later, Mustipher — who started 17 games at center last year — Pro Football Focus’ No. 16 overall pivot. The younger center has helped the team surge to the top of the league in rushing this season.

The rebuilding team stands to make more investments along the offensive line in the offseason, seeing as Ryan Poles‘ squad is projected to carry a league-high — by a whopping margin — $125MM in cap space in 2023. Patrick is set to count $5.38MM against the team’s cap next year.

Bears To Place OL Lucas Patrick On IR, Designate WR Byron Pringle For Return

Another injury will sideline Lucas Patrick during his first Bears season. After undergoing surgery to repair a hand injury, Patrick sustained a toe malady that required him to be carted off the field Monday night.

The Bears plan to place Patrick on IR on Wednesday, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. While this will be Patrick’s second extended injury hiatus, it will be his first time on IR this season. His previous absence covered most of training camp. Patrick, a two-year Packers starter, returned to action in Week 1.

Signed to a two-year, $8MM deal, Patrick followed new Bears OC Luke Getsy from Green Bay. Brought in to play center, Patrick has lined up at both center and guard this season. The hand injury affected his status at center, leading to guard work upon returning. But the Bears had Patrick at center against the Patriots. Chicago is already playing without longtime left guard Cody Whitehair, who remains on IR. Whitehair, who suffered a knee injury in Week 4, is eligible return to practice next week.

This injury, which will cost Patrick at least four games, will lead Sam Mustipher back into Chicago’s lineup at the position. After Pro Football Focus graded Mustipher as one of the NFL’s worst centers in 2021, the advanced metrics site has him slotted 14th at the position near this season’s halfway point. Mustipher, whom the Bears benched ahead of Week 7, re-emerged to play a key role in the team rushing for 243 yards in their upset win over the Patriots on Monday. Sans Whitehair, the Bears are likely to stick with the Mustipher-Michael SchofieldTeven Jenkins interior setup that finished out Week 7.

Additionally, Chicago will start Byron Pringle‘s IR-return window, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Pringle is returning to practice Wednesday. This represents good news for the Bears, with today being the first day Pringle was eligible to practice. The free agency pickup suffered a calf injury earlier this season. The Bears have used only one of their eight allotted injury activations this season.

A former Patrick Mahomes auxiliary target, Pringle signed a one-year, $4.13MM deal with the Bears this offseason. Chicago brought in a host of cogs to work alongside Darnell Mooney this year. Three of those — Pringle, N’Keal Harry and Velus Jones — have missed a chunk of time due to injury. The Bears used their first IR activation on Harry earlier this month. Pringle caught 42 passes for a career-high 568 yards and five touchdowns in 2021. In a low-volume Bears passing attack, the former UDFA was sitting on two catches (for 33 yards) when he went down earlier this season.

Bears Place G Cody Whitehair On IR, Designate WR N’Keal Harry For Return

The Bears will be without their most experienced offensive line starter for a while. They moved left guard Cody Whitehair to injured reserve Wednesday.

Whitehair, who is Chicago’s longest-tenured O-lineman by a considerable margin, suffered a knee injury during the team’s Week 4 loss to the Giants. The Bears are also opening N’Keal Harry‘s IR-return window. Harry will return to practice Wednesday, starting his 21-day activation clock. The Bears are expecting Whitehair back this season, Matt Eberflus said.

Also the only Bears blocker on a notable contract (five years, $51.25MM), Whitehair has been a starter throughout his seven-year run with the franchise. The Bears took Whitehair in the 2016 second round, and after an extensive run at center, the team moved the Kansas State product to guard. This will be a rare stay off the Bears’ 53-man roster for Whitehair, who has missed only two games in his career.

The rebuilding team has been using Lucas Patrick and Teven Jenkins in a right guard timeshare, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects that to cease for the time being. Patrick will likely slide to left guard to replace Whitehair, leaving Jenkins — whom the Bears have moved around the formation since drafting him in the 2021 second round — on the right side. A poor practice led Jenkins, who had started the first two games at right guard for the Bears, to the bench, Biggs adds. But the Oklahoma State product remained in the team’s rotation over the past two weeks. Whitehair’s injury will open the door to an extended audition for the player the previous regime viewed as a potential long-term left tackle.

Placed on IR shortly after roster cutdown, Harry would be eligible for an a Week 5 return. It remains to be seen if the Bears will deem their offseason trade acquisition ready. Harry underwent ankle surgery in mid-August and was believed to be facing a two-month recovery timetable. The Bears designating the ex-Patriots first-rounder for return certainly appears to show Harry is on schedule.

The Bears’ passing attack has plunged into a strange place. Justin Fields has set 21st-century lows to start his second season, with his 34 completions and 67 attempts both checking in below any quarterback this century through four games (among four-game starters). Any receiving help the second-year quarterback can get will be a bonus. The Bears did not make big-ticket receiver investments this offseason, instead taking a number of fliers. Harry, obtained for a 2024 seventh-round pick, was among them.

Harry began both the 2019 and ’21 seasons on IR and has a history of ankle trouble; an ankle malady led the Arizona State alum to IR as a rookie. Harry’s initial NFL injury threw off his development in New England’s then-complex offense. He started last season on IR because of a shoulder issue. The big-bodied target caught just 12 passes for 184 yards last season.