It looks as if the Bears might not go through the draft to look for a center. They perhaps found a replacement for Roberto Garza with a player with plenty of experience. They signed Brian De La Puente to a one-year deal.
De La Puente has been Drew Brees’ center with the New Orleans Saints for the past three seasons. He is 29 years old, and will serve as Garza’s backup. Garza, 35, one of the team’s captains, signed a one-year contract and is not expected to return beyond that year.
De La Puente is familiar with the Bears offense. He played under offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer when Kromer was offensive line coach at New Orleans. He was also a teammate with Jermon Bushrod, who was on the Saints’ offensive line until the Bears signed him last season.
De La Puente chose the Bears over the Saints and the Detroit Lions.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity I got in New Orleans,” De La Puente told the Chicago Tribune. “They were going in a different direction and the opportunity presented itself to get back with Coach Kromer and be with a good football team that I feel like is going in the right direction. I am very excited about this next chapter in my career.”
The team explained to Garza that his role with the team is unchanged, and that De La Puente will be a reserve. “I feel like I can learn a lot from Roberto to take my game to the next level,” de la Puente said. “I am just excited to get up there and get working.”
De La Puente was an undrafted free agent in 2008, and bounced around for six teams before he settled at New Orleans under Kromer. He is hoping to continue his learning with him in Chicago. “We’ve maintained contact throughout the past season when he was gone,” de la Puente said. “He ultimately gave me my shot in New Orleans and to be able to get back with a coach that you have a good relationship with and you learn a lot from is unique. I couldn’t be more excited.”
The signing continues the great and secretive offseason Phil Emery is having. De La Puente was not thought of being on the Bears’ radar. Emery also had a surprise signing when he got Jared Allen to come to Chicago.