The Chicago Bears have found a potential long-term replacement for Roberto Garza by adding a player with plenty of starting experience.
Brian de la Puente, who started the past three seasons for the New Orleans Saints, has agreed to a one-year contract, according to an NFL source. De la Puente, who turns 29 next month, is expected to serve as the backup to the 35-year-old Garza, a team captain that returned to the team on a one-year contract earlier this offseason.
De la Puente spent two seasons as a starter under Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer when he served as the line coach for the Saints. So, de la Puente is familiar with the offense and has experience playing with Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod. De la Puente chose the Bears over offers from the Saints and Lions, a source said.
The one-year contract is for the minimum-salary benefit with a $65,000 signing bonus (the maximum for an MSB deal) and $100,000 in base salary guaranteed. That deal makes it clear Garza, who signed for $1.5 million, will remain the starter for this season and reflects Garza’s standing as the leader in the offensive line meeting room. The team has explained to Garza that his role remains unchanged and that the plan is for de la Puente to be a reserve this season.