Roberto Garza

Bears Cut Roberto Garza, Sign Will Montgomery

11:33am: The Bears have formally announced both moves, officially signing Montgomery to a one-year contract and releasing Garza (Twitter link).

10:21am: Montgomery is signing a one-year deal with the Bears, tweets Ian Rapoport of

9:14am: The Bears have informed longtime offensive line stalwart Roberto Garza that he will be released, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Rich Campbell of the Tribune tweets that the team’s plan is to sign veteran center Will Montgomery as Garza’s replacement.

The move comes as something of a surprise, since the Bears signed Garza to a one-year contract extension back in December, locking him up for the 2015 season. However, the deal was consummated by the previous regime, led by general manager Phil Emery. Emery and head coach Marc Trestman were let go several days later, and new coach John Fox is more familiar with Montgomery, having coached him in Denver last season.

Garza, who turned 36 last month, had been with the Bears since the 2005 season, playing 154 regular season contests (145 starts) during that stretch, primarily at center and right guard. While he’s in his mid-30s, he was reasonably effective last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). PFF’s metrics graded him as a below-average pass blocker, but a positive run-blocking grade increased his overall ranking to 21st among 41 qualified centers.

Montgomery, meanwhile, ranked 15th on that same PFF list of qualified centers, with a +4.9 pass-blocking grade buoying his overall mark. The 32-year-old spent five seasons in Washington before joining the Broncos a year ago.

Garza’s old one-year contract with the Bears reportedly included a $75K signing bonus, which would have been prorated across the 2014 and 2015 seasons. As such, Chicago should only be left with $37.5K in dead money on its books after cutting him.

Bears Sign Roberto Garza To Extension

1:49pm: The deal is worth $1.5MM in total, according to Michael C. Wright of (on Twitter).

1:10pm: The Bears announced that they have signed veteran center Roberto Garza to a one-year extension. Garza was slated to hit the open market this offseason after playing on a one-year deal this season.

Garza told reporters, including Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter), that the extension materialized on Christmas. “When you’re my age, there’s not much negotiation,” the 35-year-old center said. Garza credited former Bears linemen Olin Kreutz, James “Big Cat” Williams, and Taylor Boggs for putting him on the right path last offseason to get stronger for 2014, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Earlier this year, Garza said he wasn’t sure whether he’d want to return for a 15th season. But he worked with a power lifter and physical therapist in South Carolina in the offseason, and said he feels as strong as he ever has, according to Patrick Finley of the Sun-Times.

The deal in and of itself might not be earth-shattering, but it is noteworthy that GM Phil Emery is still making these decisions. From the outside, that could be a sign that Emery will continue in his role in 2015.

Next year will be Garza’s 15th in the NFL and his eleventh with the Bears.

Extra Points: Rice, Bills Ownership, Injuries

The NFL has informed teams that any contract with Ray Rice will not be approved until further direction is provided from Roger Goodell, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Additionally, Rice will not be eligible to play north of the border, either, as the CFL will honor the NFL’s suspension, according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani (via Twitter).

Here’s some more miscellaneous news and notes:

  • Bids to buy the Bills are in from Terry Pegula, Donald Trump and Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group, reports the Buffalo News’ Tim Graham (via Twitter). He adds multiple sources believe the process could be wrapped up as soon as Wednesday. As of yesterday, Pegula, who also owns the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, appears to be the favorite to land the winning bid.
  • Titans linebacker Zach Brown will miss the rest of the season because of a torn pectoral, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Zaviar Gooden, another athletic linebacker, is expected to replace Brown in the starting lineup.
  • Bears center Roberto Garza sustained a high ankle sprain yesterday, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). With Garza sidelined for an undetermined period of time, the Bears will turn to free-agent acquisition Brian De La Puente at center.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield will also be sidelined by a high ankle sprain, says Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).
  • The Patriots worked out running back Daniel Thomas, quarterback Brock Jensen and tight ends Evan Wilson and Brian Wozniak, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link).
  • Yates also reports a couple more running back tryouts: Chris Rainey (Cardinals) and Lache Seastrunk (Packers).
  • Jason Fitzgerald at identifies players entering crucial stages of their contract who helped or hurt their stock on Sunday. Fitzgerald highlights Broncos tight end Julian Thomas, who recorded 7-103-3 in a win over the Colts, noting Thomas or teammate and free agent-to-be Demaryius Thomas “should be able to jump into a new offer” since the team can only franchise one of their pass-catching stars. At the other end of the spectrum, Fitzgerald says Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo was “non-existent “on Sunday. Furthermore, Orakpo’s reputation as someone who disappears in games could prevent him from getting the type of mega deal he seeks in free agency.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers

No NFC North teams used their franchise or transition tags yesterday, meaning players who looked like candidates, such as Packers cornerback Sam Shields and Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, appear likely to hit the open market next week. While we wait to see if those players work out anything with their respective teams, let’s check out the latest on the Bears, Lions, and Packers….

  • Defensive lineman Corey Wootton is still rehabbing from hip surgery, but he expects to be fully healthy by July, as he tells Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Although Wootton says he’d love to return to the Bears, the 26-year-old expects to “test the market and see what’s out there” in free agency. Assuming teams are confident in his full recovery, Wootton should receive plenty of interest beginning next week.
  • While he thinks the Bears could consider free agent safeties T.J. Ward and Jairus Byrd if the price is right, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times hears from a source that the club has not expressed any interest in Louis Delmas.
  • $370K of Roberto Garza‘s potential $1.5MM salary for 2014 is tied to weekly roster bonuses, so the Bears have a little built-in injury protection on their center, says Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Because first-round picks don’t cost as much as they did under the old CBA, GM Martin Mayhew and the Lions are comfortable taking the best player available at No. 10 rather than feeling pressure to take someone at a key position, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press details.
  • In a separate piece for the Free Press, Birkett looks at a few Detroit free agents, writing that the Lions continue to work on a new deal for Pettigrew, but are comfortable letting him test the market next week if no agreement has been reached.
  • The Texans are talking to tight end Garrett Graham about a new contract, but if the team lets him reach the open market, the Packers will have interest, according to Ian Rapoport of, who says Green Bay has liked Graham since he came out of Wisconsin in 2010 (Twitter links).

Bears Re-Sign Roberto Garza

11:29am: Garza’s contract includes a $100K signing bonus and $75K workout bonus, tweets Jeff Dickerson of

11:14am: Garza’s new one-year deal will be worth $1.5MM, according to’s Michael C. Wright (via Twitter).

11:03am: The Bears have locked up center Roberto Garza before he hits free agency, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Biggs reports (via Twitter) that the team has re-signed Garza to a one-year contract.

Garza, who will turn 35 next month, has started all but two of Chicago’s contests over the last eight seasons, having transitioned from guard to center in 2011. The longtime Bear continued to perform at an above-average level in 2013, ranking 12th overall among 35 qualified centers, including sixth as a pass-blocker, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required).

When I examined the free agent market for centers this week, I ranked Garza near the top of the second tier of available options, writing that his age would likely prevent him from getting more than a short-term deal. It’s not clear how much longer Garza plans to play, but head coach Marc Trestman suggested last week that the former fourth-round pick should finish his career as a Bear. I imagine if Garza continues to play well in 2014 and wants to play another season, the team will be very open to re-signing him again a year from now.

Financial details for the one-year agreement aren’t yet known.

Bears Notes: Garza, McCown, Williams, Conte

While he didn’t draw quite the crowd of reporters that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin did before him, Bears head coach Marc Trestman shared a handful of interesting tidbits this morning in his conversation with reporters. Here are some highlights:

  • Trestman indicated that the team’s focus this offseason will be on improving its defense, and that it will be a “defensive-orientated draft” for Chicago in May (Twitter link via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago).
  • Trestman said that the Bears want to bring back center Roberto Garza, who should finish his career in Chicago, in the head coach’s opinion (Twitter links via Brad Biggs and Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). The team will also do everything it can to retain free agent quarterback Josh McCown and would like to re-sign linebacker D.J. Williams, according to Trestman (Twitter links via Adam Johns of the Chicago Sun-Times and Biggs).
  • Asked if safety Chris Conte will be a Bear in 2014 after a subpar season in 2013, Trestman said yes, according to Campbell (Twitter link). Conte ranked 82nd among 86 safeties using Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

NFC Notes: Redskins, Bears, Graham

New Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden has decisions to make on how much of the Bengals’ offensive scheme he will implement, and how much of the Redskins’ system he will keep, write Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir of Tandler notes that at Gruden’s introductory press conference, the new coach mentioned that he liked how effective the Redskins zone blocking was in 2013. That would bode well for the interior of the offensive line already in place, as the team could look to keep Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, and Chris Chester. Of those three, only Chester’s cap hit is high enough to provoke a release. However, if Gruden does bring over the power blocking scheme the Bengals employed, El-Bashir writes that the offensive line must be completely retooled to be a bigger, stronger unit. Here is some other news from the NFC:

  • Bears’ center Roberto Garza has not yet begun talks of a new contract for the 2014 season, but believes there is still a shot he is back with the team next season, writes Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times“Obviously I want to be back there,” Garza said. “They told me they want me back, so we’ll see.”
  • Finley also wrote that another Bears free agent, Charles Tillman, would be open to all teams if Chicago doesn’t re-sign him, and would be particularly excited to find a new home in Tampa Bay with his old coach Lovie Smith“Obviously, it makes the deal probably a little sweeter just because it’s a former head coach,” Tillman said. “You do know the system, you know the scheme.”
  • Drew Brees made headlines last week by saying that he thought of Jimmy Graham as a tight end rather than a receiver, but now emphasizes that regardless of position, he only cares that Graham is playing for the Saints, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Brees appeared on the Dan Patrick show on Friday, to make it clear his feelings on the situation. “I want Jimmy back!” Brees said. “I want Jimmy Graham back!”