New year, new Bears.
Or more specifically, new members of the Chicago Bears.
With the NFL’s new league year opening at 3 p.m. CT, the team made it official with three free agents you already knew were coming. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, offensive lineman Lucas Patrick, and linebacker Nicholas Morrow are the newest members of the Bears.
Here’s what we’ve got on the new guys…
Ogunjobi, 27, is coming off a strong season with the AFC champion Bengals. He put up a career bests in sacks (7), QB Hits (16), and tackles-for-loss (12) while playing and starting 16 games. After spending four years in Cleveland, it is a one-and-done situation for Ogunjobi in Cincinnati. And while Chicago makes for three stops in as many years for Ogunjobi, a three-year deal worth up to $40.5 million (that includes $26.35 million in guarantees, mind you) gives the big man some stability.
Patrick, 28, had been with the Packers since 2017. The undrafted Duke product has 73 games of playing experience under his belt, including 34 starts — 28 of which came over the last two seasons. Based on his history, the Bears could conceivably play Patrick at guard or center. And considering how we’re still so early in the offseason transaction process, that versatility could come in handy when it comes to the roster-building process.
Morrow, 26, joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and has been climbing the ranks since. After spending time on the right and left sides of the defense, Morrow had a career-best season in 2020. In that season, he played in 14 games (11 starts) and set career bests in tackles (78), tackles-for-loss (8), sacks (3), and quarterback hits (6). Now, that is how you make the most of playing a career-high 75 percent of defensive snaps. Unfortunately, the Raiders didn’t get to see an encore performance because a foot injury before the regular kept him out the whole year. Hopefully, the Bears will get an opportunity to see Morrow shine.
Ogunjobi is the splashiest move of the bunch, but don’t sleep on Patrick or Morrow. These are the types of players the Bears should be targeting. The types of players who could be overlooked by other teams, but could thrive while playing on short-term contracts. No doubt players like Patrick and Morrow see their brethren getting big paydays and probably want that for themselves. And while it didn’t come this year, a strong year in Chicago could lift them to new contractual heights. Look no further than Jakeem Grant Sr., who parlayed an in-season trade to the Bears into a Pro Bowl appearance, second-team All-Pro recognition, and ultimately, a multi-year deal with the Browns.
This is just the beginning for the Bears, who still have plenty of work to do to re-work their roster. And now that we’re in a new league year, they an make things official. Game on.