Evan Dietrich-Smith signed first and seemed to receive the most recognition as the best center in the free agent class, but I always viewed former New Orleans Saints starting center Brian De La Puente as the best player at the position available on the free agent market. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that De La Puente has finally found a home, as he will settle on a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears and will look to have a big 2014 season in order to receive a bigger contract in 2015.
De La Puente was severely undervalued on the free agent market, so Phil Emery was able to pick up a very good starter on the cheap. The Bears do a very nice job of organizing their cap and finding undervalued players, as they also scooped up Willie Young earlier this offseason. While I haven’t been a fan of all of their moves (Jared Allen and M.D. Jennings being two of them), the Bears do a solid job overall and this was another quality signing to add to their record.
While the Bears didn’t need De La Puente after re-signing veteran center Roberto Garza, the value was just too good to pass up, and they have a lot more flexibility on the offensive line. If they want to, they can easily kick Garza one position outside to guard, and the Bears offensive line is more solid with the 28-year-old in the fold. The Saints seemed to be the favorites to sign him, but the Bears have swooped in after all signs pointed to a re-signing once the Washington Redskins and New York Giants cooled off on their interest. A one-year deal indicates that De La Puente will make pennies on the dollar, but he’s a top ten center in this league for sure.