This is one of the biggest bargains of free agency. Brian De La Puente has been a starter in New Orleans for 3 years since Jonathan Goodwin left following the 2010 season. In those 3 seasons, De La Puente has been an above average starting center, grading out 12th, 2nd, and 16th among centers on Pro Football Focus in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively. He’s also only going into his age 29 season. Despite that, the Bears are getting him for a dollar over the league minimum (which gives them to option to give him an extension at any time one can be agreed to). I have a hard time believing the Saints didn’t want to bring him back at this price.
The Bears don’t necessarily need a center because Roberto Garza is coming off of a solid season, but Garza has been inconsistent in the past, is going into his age 35 season, and has a salary that is fairly inexpensive. De La Puente also has an inexpensive salary so the Bears essentially have two starting centers for the price of one with the ability to use De La Puente to compete with Garza or to use Garza, a former guard, as an interior line reserve and 6th offensive lineman. De La Puente also reunites with talented and well respected Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who he worked with in New Orleans when he was the offensive line coach from 2009-2012. It’s a great move.