November 24, 2014
After setting a franchise yardage record and finishing second in the NFL in points last year, the Bears are getting the band back together.
Center Roberto Garza signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract Thursday, meaning every offensive starter is set to return for coach Marc Trestman’s second season.
Garza will play his 10th season with the Bears at 35 but wouldn’t rule out playing beyond the end of the deal.
‘‘They knew I wanted to come back, and they wanted me back,’’ Garza told the Sun-Times. ‘‘I’m at the point in my career that I was able to make a decision to stay in Chicago. . . .
“It would have been hard to go somewhere new and start over.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else. I want to retire a Chicago Bear.”
Negotiations started a few days ago. Lions center Dominic Raiola, 35, “absolutely” helped to set the market, Garza said, when he signed a similar deal earlier this month.
‘‘It feels good,’’ Garza said. ‘‘I’m fortunate I haven’t had to deal with much negotiation throughout my year. . . .
‘‘The waiting process was not good for me.
‘‘I’m not a very patient man.’’
Pro Football Focus rated Garza, who hasn’t missed a regular-season game since 2010, its 12th-best center last season. The unquestioned leader of the offensive line helped tutor new guards Matt Slauson and Kyle Long.
Slauson earned a four-year contract in January, and Long went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
“We all helped each other,” Garza said. “That’s what was great about the guys we have.”
Pleased with their offensive direction, the Bears have re-signed three starters — quarterback Jay Cutler, Slauson and Garza — since the end of the season.
The Bears kept tight end Dante Rosario on a one-year deal Thursday, too, leaving backup quarterback Josh McCown and swing tackle (and, last year, blocking tight end) Eben Britton as the only offensive players of consequence left on their free agents-to-be list.
Free agency starts March 11.
Garza can see himself transitioning to TV — he called his Spanish broadcast of the Super Bowl ‘‘a great learning experience’’ — whenever he retires.
‘‘This is the best I’ve felt in a couple of years,’’ he said. ‘‘I realize I’m going to be 35, and at some point, my body’s going to say, ‘No more.’ ’’
Until that day comes, he’ll keep playing.
‘‘If I feel good this time next year,’’ he said, ‘‘I will.’’