(CBS) The Bears have released center Roberto Garza, they announced Thursday, just more than three months after the old regime led by Phil Emery signed the veteran to a one-year contract extension.
In a corresponding move, the Bears signed veteran center Will Montgomery, who spent last season playing for new Bears coach John Fox in Denver. The 32-year-old Montgomery played in all 16 games for the Broncos in 2014, starting eight of them. He's a nine-year veteran who has 71 career starts.
Garza, 36, has played 14 NFL seasons, 10 of which have come with the Bears.
"We have a great deal of respect for what Roberto has brought to the Bears over the last 10 years," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He has been a great player, teammate and leader. We wish Roberto and his family the very best as he continues his career."
In 2014, Garza injured his ankle in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills, which shelved him for four weeks. He played in 12 games this past season, starting all of them.
By releasing Garza, the Bears will save $1.1375 million, and they'll also take on $37,500 in dead money.
In December, Garza said the fire was still burning to play.
"From the moment I was 13 years old to the moment now," Garza said at the time, "before you step on the field, the adrenaline rush, the emotions you feel inside you, that's the reason you play the game. To go out there and battle. Go out there and try to fight a 350-pound nose guard with your buddies, there's nothing like it."
The Bears will likely continue to monitor the free-agent market for centers/interior offensive linemen, with quality players like Dan Connolly and Stefan Wisniewski still available.
The Bears' backup center from 2014, Brian de la Puente, is also a free agent.
The Garza news was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.
In other Thursday news, the Bears released safety and special teamer Anthony Walter, who played in 37 games for Chicago in the past four seasons.
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