|Garza, who has been underpaid in recent years, finally gets his raise. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
After months of negotiating, posturing, and public PR battles, the Bears have finally paid the man. That's right, offensive lineman Roberto Garza is the proud recipient of a two-year extension worth $6.55 million ($2.6 million guaranteed) that will keep him in Chicago through 2013. (Wait, were you expecting news on another player? Perhaps the one who ran all over the Eagles' defense Monday night? More on that later.)
The 11-year veteran has made the seamless transition to center, replacing Olin Kreutz who left during free agency for New Orleans. (Incidentally, Kreutz he left the team last month citing a lack of passion for the game.)
“I’m excited to be a part of this organization and continue my career as a Bear,” Garza said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Garza has started 86 of the last 88 regular-season games, and the Tribune calls him "the most underpaid interior offensive lineman to start in the NFL with his level of experience." His last contract came in 2006, when he signed a six-year, $12.8 million extension.
And while that's swell news for Garza -- and by extension, Jay Cutler, who has enjoyed some of the best pass protection he's seen since coming to Chicago prior to the 2009 season -- the Bears' best player continues to look for a new deal. So is Matt Forte next on the front office's to-do list?
“It’s part of the plan for the money,” general manager Jerry Angelo said last month.
A week before the 2011 regular season, the Bears reportedly offered Forte $15 million guaranteed. Five days later, contract talks were put no hold.
On Monday, before the Bears beat the Eagles, Angelo spoke again about Forte.
“Matt was the only player we targeted and we made him, in my opinion, a very lucrative offer and it wasn’t able to get done,” Angelo said on the WBBM pregame show. “Our intent is still to have Matt play the bulk of his years in Chicago and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
If talks continue to go nowhere the organization could always choose to slap Forte with the franchise tag. Angelo didn't deny that as a possibility.
“We always have a plan in place and we will continue to talk,” Angelo said. “These things are not easy to do but we’ve always got something going on. Is there something imminent? No. But we’re always planning and trying to create options.”
Matt Forte bounced back from two costly turnovers and Jay Cutler rallied the resilient Chicago Bears to a 30-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. Lovie Smith was pleased with the play of his team.
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