Bears Sign Brian De La Puente

The Bears have signed center Brian De La Puente, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Biggs adds that the contract is a one-year deal for the minimum salary benefit, with a $65K signing bonus and $100K in base salary guaranteed. The team has officially announced the transaction (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old De La Puente is a veteran of six NFL seasons, and spent the last four years as a member of the Saints, becoming a starter during the 2011 season. He will reunite with former Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who is now the offensive coordinator in Chicago.

De La Puente graded out well in 2013 per Pro Football Focus, earning a +4.0 grade, which ranked him 16th among centers; he especially excelled in pass-blocking. However, despite taking a visit with the Redskins and mulling a potential return to the Saints, he appears to be settling for a backup job, as the Bears already have Roberto Garza entrenched at the center position.

De La Puente adds quality depth to a Bears offensive line that mostly succeeded last season. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit 18th (up from 30th last season), while Football Outsiders graded the Bears O-line as excellent in pass protection.

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