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GM Phil Emery would like to have center Roberto Garza back

Center RoberGarz| AP

Center Roberto Garza | AP

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Updated: February 5, 2014 6:06AM



When Roberto Garza strolled through Halas Hall on Monday and cleared out his locker, the veteran center with an expiring contract didn’t know where he stood with the Bears.

“We’ll see what happens in the upcoming months or weeks or whatever,” Garza said.

“Whatever” turned into a Thursday declaration by general manager Phil Emery that he would like Garza, who turns 35 in March, to return.

“I’ve let Roberto know that I was proud of his season, and obviously we will work through it, but we would like him back,” Emery said. “And I’m sure he’ll have some choices to make, and we’ll see how it goes. But [I’m] very pleased with his season.”

After left guard Matt Slauson signed a four-year deal, Garza is the only offensive starter without a contract. Bringing back every offensive lineman from a record-setting 2013 season on offense would benefit a team that’s about to put its defense through an extreme makeover.

Garza, a 13-year veteran, said he wants to return.

“I feel like I can still play,” he said.

Emery thought Garza, the only holdover on the offensive line from 2012, improved in 2013.

“We use STATS, Inc. to give us an independent source of disruptions — hits, sacks [and] knockdowns given up,” Emery said. “A year ago, he was at 11 total for the season. This year, he was at five.”

Garza made $2.05 million in 2013. But his duties as the offensive line’s signal-caller are invaluable, his teammates said.

“I would absolutely love to have Roberto back,” Slauson said. “He’s a huge part of our line and the leadership.”

Message for Melton

The Bears still value what defensive tackle Henry Melton can do, but Emery wants to make sure he’s fully dedicated to football and his rehab for a torn anterior cruciate ligament after his arrest Dec. 22 in Texas.

“He has to fully dedicate his mind and his focus to football, which is extremely important,” Emery said. “And as I have sat down and talked to him, there was a reason we franchise-tagged him [for 2013]. There was a reason for that [$8.45 million] investment. The under-tackle position in the scheme that we’re in is the engine that drives the defense. And when he was in the game, even though from a statistical standpoint he wasn’t off to a fast start, it was very evident on tape that he was a very important part of the defense.”

This and that

Sources said rookie right tackle Jordan Mills underwent surgery for a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot Friday. Mills is not expected to miss an extended amount of time.

◆ The Associated Press announced its All-Pro first and second teams, and no Bears were chosen.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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