Feb 27 2014, 11:58pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
This was confirmed on Thursday by Larry Mayer of the Bears' official website:
"The Bears on Thursday retained a key member of their record-breaking offense, re-signing veteran center Roberto Garza to a one-year contract.
"Garza was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11.
"With Garza anchoring an offensive line that featured new starters at all four other positions in 2013, the Bears ranked second in the NFL with 445 points and set franchise records with 6,109 total yards, 4,450 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, a 96.9 passer rating and 344 first downs.
"With improved play from the line, the Bears allowed only 30 sacks, tied for the fourth fewest in the NFL, and Matt Forte was voted to the Pro Bowl after rushing for a career-high 1,339 yards, the most by any Bears player other than Hall of Famer Walter Payton.
"With the Bears re-signing quarterback Jay Cutler, left guard Matt Slauson, fullback Tony Flammetta and now Garza before they became free agents, all 11 starters on offense are under contract."
According to Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune, Garza's new deal was negotiated by his agent Jeff Griffin. The Chicago center had just concluded a two-year, $6 million extension he signed in late 2011.
Bears general manager Phil Emery wanted Garza back for next season but the soon-to-be 35-year-old Garza's age "likely diminished his value," notes ESPN Chicago.
Nonetheless, Emery stressed Garza's value to ESPN's Michael C. Wright on Feb. 27.
"A year go, he was at 11 total (hits, sacks and knockdowns allowed) for the season. This year, he was at five. So I've told him I thought he made a big push up. He got a lot better with his overall body position and his hip placement. He's obviously very important in terms of calling signals for our offensive line and making point adjustments."
Wright also points out Chicago used 35-year-old Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola's own contract worth $1.5 million which he signed several weeks earlier "as the framework" for the Garza deal.
Now that Garza if officially back, Biggs maintains he will act as a mentor to backup center Taylor Boggs and a late-round draft pick. Garza did not confirm to The Chicago Tribune if the 2014 season will be his last, only saying he's taking it "year by year."
"I'm taking it year by year. I felt really good this season and this is the best I have felt (in the offseason) in a couple of years. If I keep feeling good and playing well, I'll want to continue to play. My body will tell me when the time is right but I feel great."
For his part, Garza told Mayer he's excited to be back to build on something special.
"I'm excited to keep playing and playing for a great franchise and a great city. Everybody knows that I wanted to stay here. With the guys that I'm playing with, everything is coming together. I feel it's a great opportunity to build on what we started last year.
"Everybody's coming back and we're going to be in the same system for the second year. We did some good things last year, but there's a lot of stuff we have to build on and correct and do better. It's going to be fun to watch the film from last year and get better at things that are going to make us a better football team."
Garza, who is entering his 14th NFL season, has missed just two games since becoming a Chicago Bear nine years ago. He has been team captain for the past three seasons.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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