While everybody has been focused on the health situation around Justin Fields, hopes were high that the Chicago Bears offensive line might get some help soon. Veteran Lucas Patrick was scheduled to come off injured reserve this week, giving them a possible upgrade at center. Sadly, it appears things didn’t progress as everybody had hoped. Head coach Matt Eberflus announced on Wednesday that Patrick underwent surgery on his toe. He is officially done for the 2022 season. It’s a brutal blow for both the player and the team.
This development means Sam Mustipher will likely remain the starting center for the rest of the season. That isn’t something Bears fans envisioned back in the spring. Patrick was supposed to be the upgrade they needed at that position. Sadly injuries kept getting in the way. First it was Cody Whitehair going down with a knee issue, and now it’s Patrick himself. It is more evident than ever that GM Ryan Poles must make the offensive line a top priority next off-season. That includes center. After two injuries this year, Patrick can’t be trusted to make it through a full season. The Bears need alternatives.
The Chicago Bears have intriguing options ahead.
Free agency will be the first place to look. There are some interesting options that might be available. Connor McGover is enjoying his best season with the New York Jets, allowing only 12 pressures. Ethan Pocic is another surprise breakout name, allowing only eight pressures in Cleveland while grading high as a run blocker. Pocic is the younger option at 28 years old. So he’s a name to watch. If that route isn’t preferable, then the draft becomes the most obvious.
Obviously, there aren’t any prospects in the 2023 class worth a top five pick. There never are. However, current projections suggest there will be some rock-solid options in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The Chicago Bears have two guys in charge that are former offensive linemen. It shouldn’t be a huge challenge for them to find somebody that can fill the void if that’s the route they take. Much of this may depend on what they decide to do with Patrick. His contract isn’t overly expensive, so it’s possible he will stick around.