So what if Chicago Bears center Roberto Garza turns 35 in less than a month? The team absolutely made the right decision in shrugging off age and instead focusing on production in deciding to bring back Garza for what will be his 1oth season in Chicago.
The Bears also made the right move to come up from the original minimum offer the sides discussed shortly after the conclusion of the regular season.
A captain for each of the past three seasons, Garza has started in eight postseason contests, and anchored a revamped offensive line in 2013 that featured four new starters. The Bears finished last season as one of just three teams in the NFL to start the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games.
So bringing back Garza only enriches the continuity along the offensive line, which should be even better in 2014 in Year 2 in Marc Trestman's offensive system.
Bears general manager Phil Emery referenced Garza's consistency when discussing in January the potential difficulty of bringing back the starting center after a 2013 campaign which was arguably Garza's best in Chicago.
“A year ago, he was at 11 total [hits, sacks and knockdowns allowed] for the season,” Emery said. “This year, he was at five. So I've told him I thought he made a big push up. He got a lot better with his overall body position and his hip placement. He's obviously very important in terms of calling signals for our offensive line and making point adjustments.”
Garza also brings a selfless attitude that has proved to be contagious in the locker room. In making a decision on whether to sign the seven-year extension with the Bears, quarterback Jay Cutler talked about the desire of teammates to win championships over chasing dollars.
“I talked with [Matt] Forte, [Brandon Marshall], Garza and all the guys,” Cutler explained. “We're here to win championships, not to make so and so amount of dollars.”
It's apparent the Bears used the recent deal signed by Detroit center Dominic Raiola, who is 35, as the framework for Garza's contract. Raiola signed a one-year deal earlier in February worth $1.5 million.
So while Garza's deal doesn't exactly break the bank, it's cap friendly and rewards one of the fixtures on Chicago's offensive line who hasn't shown any signs he's regressing.