The Chicago Bears and center Roberto Garza have agreed to terms on a one-year contract extension. The deal is reportedly worth $1.5 million, with per-game roster bonuses, similar to the one-year extension he signed last year.
Garza will be 36 in March, yet the Bears obviously feel the veteran center, who has been with the club since 2005, still has one good year left in him.
“Fortunately for me, I know I can come back for my 15th year and continue to do the things that I love to do, go out there and play football and especially be a part of this organization and this team,” Garza said today.
Despite the down season, Garza said he did not hesitate to sign on for one more year as a member of the navy and orange.
“We all want to be champions, and this year's been tough but when you step on the football field it's about going out there and battling,” said Garza. “You love to go out there and try to battle. Obviously you want to win football games, that's what we're paid to do, that's what we want to do.
“But at the end of the day when you line up and put a helmet on and get a chance to play a football game in front of thousands of fans and do something I've been doing since I was 13 years old, playing football is what we love to do. We have to try to win more football games so we can go to the playoffs and do the things that we all want to do.”
Garza said the idea of retiring did cross his mind.
“It's always there, you think about,” he said. “Obviously you want to be able to do your job. If you can do your job then you can keep playing. When I got hurt, and those four weeks, watching the team practice, it was tough to sit on the sidelines and right there I knew I wanted to keep going. When I don't enjoy doing the week-in, week-out thing then it's going to be time to retire.
“Being a part of that offensive line group that we have here, Kyle [Long] and [Matt] Slauson and [Jordan] Mills and [Jermon] Bushrod and Eben [Britton] and Taylor [Boggs] is a big part of the reason I want to keep playing. I love playing with those guys and obviously the rest of my teammates but I spend a lot of time with the offensive line, so those guys, it's fun to go out there and try to battle every week.”
Garza is in the twilight of his career yet he’s played at a reasonably high level the past two years. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s allowed the second fewest sacks (1) and quarterback hits (2) on the team this year. He’s not a Pro Bowler by any means but the Bears believe his veteran leadership and experience will be valuable for one more season.
The move means the organization is unlikely to make any significant changes to the offensive line this offseason, other than potentially replacing Jordan Mills at right tackle.
From the official press release:
Over 10 seasons with Chicago, Garza has appeared in 153 contests with 144 starts, including 59 starts at center since taking over as the anchor of the Bears offensive line four seasons ago. While in Chicago, he has helped block for a 1,000-yard rusher in six campaigns with RB Matt Fortè 13 yards away (987 rushing yards in 2014) from making it seven.
In 14 NFL seasons Garza has started 175-of-205 regular season games played with Atlanta (2001-04) and Chicago (2005-14), playing each of the interior offensive line spots. He has appeared in eight postseason contests, starting every game.
“Extremely happy for Roberto, his family and the Chicago Bears that Roberto will remain with the team,” Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. “He has been a consistently good positive producer and key contributor to our offensive line for an extended time period along with being a leader and role model to everyone on our team and in the greater Chicago community."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.