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Chicago Bears 2024 Roster Turnover: Finding a starting center is a must

In this 12-part series, we’ll take an in-depth look at each position group for the Chicago Bears with an eye toward the 2024 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and a few possible additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Poles make.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears have had four different players start at center in the last two seasons, Sam Mustipher, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, and Dan Feeney, and the odds are fairly high that none of them will be starting anywhere in 2024.

Mustipher was a reserve in Baltimore last season, and he played in nine games with two starts with the Ravens. Whitehair is a likely cap casualty that I'll get into when I write about the guards, but his days at center are probably over. Patrick and Feeney are both out of contract and better off as backups.

The Bears are solid at every position along the offensive line except center, so landing a quality player to man the middle of their line would tie the whole thing together.

Let's look at how the center position shapes up currently in Chicago.

Lucas Patrick - Free agent - After an injury-plagued first year on the Bears, Patrick was serviceable in 2023. His snaps were better than the other centers on the roster, and his blocking was passable, but nothing he did says he should return as the starter.

I wouldn't be against Patrick returning as a backup, as he can fill in at all three interior spots, but he can't be the center plan for 2024.

Dan Feeney - Free agent - The Bears traded a sixth-round 2024 draft pick for Feeney, and they got a total of 157 snaps out of him with one start. He's from Orland Park, Illinois, so if the Bears want him back as a reserve, they could probably entice him to do so.

Doug Kramer Jr. - Signed through 2024 - The Bears brought Kramer back on a reserve/futures deal after he finished the season on the practice squad. He appeared in two games last year for the Bears (5 snaps) and spent ten days on the Cardinals' active roster. Kramer needs a big offseason prepping for 2024, and he should try to work on some guard technique to add value.

2024 Outlook - I've wanted the Bears to draft a center for a few years now, but they may have no choice this offseason. They can't head into Ryan Poles' and Matt Eberflus' third year with a hole at the position. The top center in the draft is Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson, but the Bears won't be in a position to draft him unless they swing a trade of some kind.

Right now the Bears have picks 1 and 9 in the first round, pick 75 in the third, picks 110 and 122 in the fourth round, and pick 142 in the fifth.

After a nice week at the Senior Bowl, Powers-Johnson is likely going mid to late first round, so Zach Frazier from West Virginia and Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia are day two guys that could be in play for the Bears.

Chicago can't rely on a rookie center being drafted to start, so I'd expect them to bring in a veteran. Miami's Connor Williams tore his ACL late in the 2023 season, which will impact his market, but he's the most talented center available. Other free agent centers are Las Vegas' Andre James, Denver's Lloyd Cushenberry, and Seattle's Even Brown, who played for Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron last year.

Pairing Brown, who has 40 starts in the last three years at center and guard, with a rookie could be the way to go.

What do you predict will happen with the center position in 2024 for the Bears?