When he was battling to get his foot in an NFL door, Lucas Patrick never dreamed that he'd ever be formally introduced to the media after signing a lucrative free agent contract.
So, when that magic moment arrived Friday at Halas Hall, the new Bears center/guard choked up when reflecting on his improbable journey.
Patrick not only was not selected in the 2016 draft, he also was not immediately signed as an undrafted free agent. The Duke product settled for a chance to try out for a roster spot at the Packers rookie minicamp—and made the most of the opportunity, earning a contract. After spending his rookie season on the practice squad, Patrick made the 53-man roster in 2017 and became a regular starter in 2020, putting him in position to sign with the Bears.
"Just have gratitude," Patrick said after a brief pause to compose himself. "You're never looking too far ahead. You can stay in the moment and you can really enjoy what you're doing and not look at it as a job, because this is a dream. Never thought I'd be sitting in a room like this as a free agent signing. I'm just grateful."
Patrick played both center and guard for the Packers but told reporters that he expects to line up at center with the Bears.
"That's where I think I'll be, but if there's one thing I've learned in the NFL, it's be ready to play any position," Patrick said. "That's definitely one thing I'll bring to this team is the availability and the reliability at multiple positions."
Patrick started 15 games at guard in 2020 but made 11 of 13 starts at center last season in place of injured rookie second-round pick Josh Myers.
Asked why some believe that center is his best position, Patrick said: "I think it's two things: I get to apply some of my mental strengths and how I approach the game and how I see things, along with the physical approach that I can bring, kind of right at the apex of the offensive line. When you combine those two, you can play a certain way and that allows me to play football how I think it should be intended, which is physical, tough but smart."
The chance to reunite with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy in Chicago was a key factor in Patrick's decision to sign with the Bears. Getsy served as a Packers offensive assistant in five of Patrick's six seasons in Green Bay.
"He's brilliant," Patrick said. "I'm so glad that I get to be here with him. He's an awesome coach."
Given his familiarity with Getsy, Patrick intends to help Bears teammates learn the new offense.
"Just the experience I have with it … I understand a lot of what he wants to do and understand him as a person as well," Patrick said. "And I think that helps to disseminate information from him to guys so that you can say like, 'hey, this is what he's saying but he means this.' Or, 'when he calls this, this is what we're trying to do here. This is the big goal.'"
“This opportunity is once in a lifetime.” Lucas Patrick on joining the Bears
One new teammate that Patrick is eager to develop cohesiveness with is second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
"We're going to have to trust each other," Patrick said. "There's a reason he was brought here and there's a reason he is the player he is, and [I'll] listen to what he thinks he does well and what has worked for him and hopefully expand that as much as I can."
Saying that he's "fired up to be a Bear," Patrick is grateful for the chance to play for the NFL's two most storied organizations and be part of what he believes is the league's greatest rivalry.
"This opportunity is once in a lifetime," he said. "To go from one historic franchise to the historic franchise, it's Chicago. It speaks for itself. That was too good to pass up."
Patrick is well aware that the fierce rivalry has been one-sided for more than a decade, with the Packers winning 21 of 24 meetings since 2010.
"I've been on the winning side, [and] I'm going to stay on the winning side," he said. "We're going to start winning these games.
"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. Typically, I feel like whoever wins those games takes the North [Division title], and like [general manager] Ryan [Poles] said, that's the goal here: Take the North, get to the playoffs, [and] get a shot at the Lombardi [Trophy]."
Check out new Bears OL Lucas Patrick in action. The veteran has played in 73 games with 34 starts during his five NFL seasons.