Brian De La Puente was yet another underrated steal for the Chicago Bears in free agency. What does his addition mean?
Roberto Garza insurance now in the Bears camp
For the past few months Bears fans have picked over the current roster looking for potential weaknesses that must be sewn up before the season begins in September. While defense of course rules the roost, many consider the center position highest on the priority of offensive areas in need of help. Roberto Garza experienced a nice recovery last seasons, guiding the Chicago offensive line to one of its best performances in years, ranking 4th in the league in fewest sacks allowed. That is why the team elected to bring him back in free agency. However, that doesn’t dismiss facts. Garza, for all his amazing durability and leadership turned 35-years old in March. His time in the pros is running short and the Bears have to start thinking about replacements. The only body they had for depth on the roster was journeyman Taylor Boggs who has never played a live snap in the regular season. Thus the best way to grab insurance for Garza was via the NFL draft, probably in the mid to later rounds. The signing of Brian De La Puente changes that. Though he’s only inked on a one-year deal, Chicago now has a 28-year old veteran in their midst with loads of starting experience under his belt. Since getting on the field in 2011 he has never missed a started and rated among the best centers in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
Center no longer a concern in NFL draft for Phil Emery
Having him in camp is a blessing because not only do they have outstanding insurance in case Garza goes down with injury, they now have an experienced replacement they can easily extend with a new contract by next season to take over in the middle. On top of that, the move also pretty much eliminates the center position from the equation for the upcoming NFL draft. That means the Chicago Bears have more freedom to go after players of value rather than need. For example if there’s another defender worth taking in the later rounds, or a receiver, or a running back or a tight end or even a quarterback the latitude has grown extensively. One slightly unforeseen possibility is it also frees up an extra pick for Emery to use in a trade should he see a player of outstanding value within reach.
All of that has come to fruition thanks to the inking of Brian De La Puente to a remarkably cheap deal. The Chicago Bears will only be the better for it.