The Chicago Bears locked up most of their players in need of new deals last month, and the most notable of those extensions was the one to franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. The team also gave Robbie Gould, fullback Tony Fiammetta, corner Tim Jennings (keeping him was especially important with Charles Tillman unlikely to be re-signed), and the underrated Matt Slauson. As it stands right now, the Bears have James Anderson, Zack Bowman, Nate Collins, Devin Hester, Henry Melton, Josh McCown, Kelvin Hayden, Jay Ratliff, Major Wright, Tillman, Corey Wootton, D.J. Williams, and Roberto Garza as impending free agents (Julius Peppers is expected to be a cap casualty).
That’s a lengthy list, but the list could get smaller if the Bears and their starting center Garza are able to come to terms to a deal before the free agent window begins. They have over a month to get a new deal ironed out, and Phil Emery has definitely shown a desire to re-sign “his guys”, especially if he can get them to sign affordable deals. I think that will be the case with Garza, especially since there seems to be plenty of mutual interest.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, Roberto Garza “remains hopeful” that he and the Bears can get a new deal done, and Emery also stated that he wants to have the 34-year-old back in Chicago for another year. It will be interesting to see what kind of deal they gave to Garza, but he obviously wouldn’t receive more than two years on his new contract. While Slauson was the team’s best offensive lineman last year, Garza was a pretty close second and did a very good job in pass protection. Jordan Mills is a must-upgrade on the OL, but the Bears should also focus on keeping a solid player like Garza instead of creating a new need by being unable to keep him around. Ultimately, I would be very surprised if a deal isn’t reached before the 11th of March.