The Bears have signed center Roberto Garza to a two-year contract extension worth a reported $6.55 million, including $2.6 guaranteed.
Garza, an 11-year veteran, is in his seventh season with the Bears. He has been one of the team's most dependable and versatile players. He has started 99 out of 108 games since joining the Bears as a free agent in 2005, most of them at right guard, but also at left guard and center.
Garza has been a key factor in the Bears' 5-3 start that has them in position to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season. He replaced Olin Kreutz at center on short notice when the Bears' failed to reach agreement with Kreutz on a contract at the start of training camp in July. He also replaced Kreutz as an offensive captain, a role which he is not all that comfortable with, but has filled admirably in place of the more effusive Kreutz.
The Bears signed Garza to a one-year contract in 2005 after the Baltimore Ravens pulled a four-year, $7 million offer to Garza when a physical revealed he did not have an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
After he started eight games in 2005 -- four at left guard and four at right guard, including the Bears' playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers -- the Bears signed Garza to a six-year, $14 million contract that included $4 million in guaranteed money. He is making $2.1 million in 2011 on the final year of the original long-term contract.
Garza, 32, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2001 (99th overall) out of Texas A&M-Kingsville, where he was little college All-America center and NCAA champion in the shot put. He is one of only six offensive linemen to be nominated for the Harlon Hill Trophy as the best player in NCAA Division II football -- and the only lineman nominated for the award in the last 15 years.