Roberto Garza - signed through 2015 - If somehow Garza, who turns 36 next month, is starting at center on week one of the 2015 season for the Bears, that will make a 3rd straight Chicago regime that felt he was the best option at center. Now either the professional scouts/GMs/coaches are all wrong about his skill set and what he brings to an offense, or the numerous fans that call for Garza's head are wrong about him not being the best option at center for the Chicago Bears.
At least one scouting service rated Garza's 2014 season as middle of the road. Among the 29 centers that played at least 50% of their teams snaps, Pro Football Focus had Garza graded in 14th, at -1.3.
In 2013, when the Marc Trestman offense was clicking, and the offensive line was intact for all 16 games, Garza only graded 2 spots higher in 12th, but his overall grade was +9.1.
Could the Bears do with an upgrade at center? Of course they could, but that determination is now in the hands of GM Ryan Pace, his scouts and head coach John Fox and his offensive staff.
Brian de la Puenta - free agent - I'm not sure when de la Puente became the 2nd coming of Olin Kreutz, but he sure has a group of vocal supporters. We're not talking about an All Pro caliber talent here, he is a solid interior offensive lineman. After starting 44 games for the New Orleans Saints from 2011-2013, he struggled to find a job last off season. It wasn't until April 6th of last year that the Bears, and his former position coach Aaron Kromer, took a one year flier on de la Puente.
I thought it was a good signing, and I thought he played well last year. I'd also be fine if the Bears decided to bring him back. In only 320 snaps at center, PFF gave him a +8.2, in 181 snaps at guard, PFF gave him a -3.9. While starting every game at center in 2013 for the Saints, PFF graded him with a +5.8.
Ryan Groy - signed through 2015 - I could have listed Groy with the guards, since that's the only position he played last season, but he is technically the only back up center signed to the roster. Groy had 3 starts late last year and while he looked like a rookie at times, he also showed some scrappiness to his game.
I actually graded his NFL debut against the Dallas Cowboys, when he entered in relief of Michael Ola at left guard. He was my lowest graded of the 6 offensive lineman that played that day, but I thought he showed some promise then, and also in his 3 starts.
2015 OUTLOOK - If the Bears bring back de la Puente to compete with Garza, then they may not spend a draft pick on a center. If they go with just Garza and Groy, then I could see them wanting a young G/C type player at some point in the draft.
One mid round prospect is Shaquille Mason of Georgia Tech. He played guard all through college, but worked at center at the Senior Bowl. Some scouts feel his best pro position is center because he's only 6'1". He was a mauling run blocker in Georgia Tech's triple option attack, but he'll need to adjust his game for the NFL.
If the Bears decide to cut ties with Garza, since it was former GM Phil Emery that gave him the one year extension and his contract is easily cuttable, they may look at former Broncos center Will Montgomery. He started 8 games last year in Denver for new Bears head coach John Fox and he actually spent his rookie year with Fox in Carolina.
What are your thoughts on the center position for the Bears in 2015?