The Bears have re-signed a seventh player for the 2014 season, and its next-most important free agent on offense — center Roberto Garza.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune first reported that the Bears re-signed Garza to a one-year contract. Every Bears starter from last season will return for 2014.
In 2013, Garza played every offensive snap and had a cumulative grade of +7.2 from Pro Football Focus. He ranked 12th among centers, a big jump from 28th in 2012.
Here’s what GM Phil Emery said about Garza’s success this past season during his Jan. 2 press conference:
“... We use STATS, Inc. to give us an independent source of disruptions — hits, sacks [and] knockdowns given up. A year ago he was at 11 total for the season. This year he was at five. He gave up ... they actually do quarter sacks. They have share of responsibility on how they evaluate sacks. He gave up three-quarters of a sack this year.
“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. He did a lot of good things.”
Garza will turn 35 in March. The Bears also re-signed his backup, Taylor Boggs, on Monday.
“Roberto is an outstanding player and person,” head coach Marc Trestman said in the team's release. “He is as hard-working a player as we have and an unselfish leader. He is tremendously important in our preparation by quarterbacking the offensive line both in run and pass protection. He anchors everything we do up front and we’re thrilled to have him back.”
According to ESPN Chicago’s Michael Wright, the contract is worth $1.5 million for 2014. That is in line with what Brad Meester got from the Jaguars last offseason and the same base salary that the Lions gave center Dominic Raiola earlier this month.
The deal includes a $100,000 signing bonus and $75,000 workout bonus, per ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson.
“When you’re around Roberto on a day-to-day basis, you realize he’s a better person and leader than he is a player and we think he's a very good player,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer told the team's website. “It was important for us to get him back. We’re excited to have him back. He’s a veteran presence in the [offensive line] room. He probably had his best year last year so we think he’s on the upswing even though he has a lot of years under his belt. We think he can be very productive for us again this upcoming year.”
The following Bears have been re-signed for 2014: Robbie Gould, Tony Fiammetta, Jay Cutler, Matt Slauson, Tim Jennings, Derrick Martin, Boggs and Garza.