Well the Bears don't take Sunday afternoon off in the offseason, with the following announcement coming out:
De La Puente has started 44 games for the Saints over the last three years. In this story about the signing, Brad Biggs surmises that De La Puente could be the long term replacement for Garza, if things continue to go smoothly for this coaching staff:
The Chicago Bears have found a potential long-term replacement for Roberto Garza by adding a player with plenty of starting experience.
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.
For those that care about such things, De La Puente was the sixteenth-highest ranked center in the league by Pro Football Focus, with an overall 4.0 ranking in 1,154 snaps. For perspective, Garza was ranked twelfth with a 7.2 rating in 1,070 snaps.
Interestingly, though, in his last season (2012) under Kromer, De La Puente was PFF's second rated center, with an extremely impressive 23.0 overall rating.
While the inherent obvious choice would be to play the trusted Bears veteran, liked and beloved by his teammates, do not count out the chance for this to become a battle. With both on one year deals, if De La Puente makes it to the field early and often, don't be surprised if a long-term deal for De La Puente doesn't get handled in the offseason. That said, this makes it seem less likely the Bears are inclined to take a center in this draft, furthering the feeling that it will be a defense-heavy draft.
Let us know what you think below.