Roberto Garza will be back in the windy city for a 10th consecutive season.
The soon to be 35-year-old center re-signed with the Bears on Thursday on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, according to a league source.
The deal is identical to what longtime Lions center Dominic Raiola signed to stay in Detroit last month.
With Garza’s deal finished, the Bears can focus on their own major free agents, specifically defensively. All 11 offensive starters are under contract for the 2014 season. 22 Bears players are set to be unrestricted free agents when free agency officially opens on March 11th.
Garza graded out as the 12th best center out of 35 qualifiers by Pro Football Focus.
“I’m excited to keep playing and playing for a great franchise and a great city,” Garza said via ChicagoBears.com on Thursday. “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.”
Since taking over at center for Olin Kreutz in 2011, Garza hasn’t missed a single game, starting all 16 games in each of the past three seasons. In fact he’s missed only two games since signing with the Bears in 2005.
Garza has served as a team captain for three straight seasons, while also playing a key part on and off the field for this offense.
He was the lone returnee along the offensive line last season as he played next to four new faces in Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.
Garza is the glue of this offensive line and Bears general manager Phil Emery made the right choice to keep the 13-year veteran in town for another season.
The offensive line played very well as a unit, finishing among the NFL’s best in sacks allowed (30) which ranked fourth and quarterback hits (85) which ranked 13th.
His experience is invaluable. If the Bears opt to select a center in this year’s draft, Garza would be the perfect man to groom the rookie.
Garza is the sixth key free agent to re-sign with the Bears this off-season along with kicker Robbie Gould, quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings, left guard Matt Slauson and fullback Tony Fiammetta.
Special teamers Taylor Boggs and Derrick Martin earned one-year deals this past week with the team as well.
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