Bears cut Garza, sign Montgomery

The Chicago Bears released center Roberto Garza on Thursday, preventing him from returning in 2015 for an 11th season with the franchise.

In a corresponding move, the team signed former Broncos center Will Montgomery, who played for Fox in Denver last season, as Garza's replacement. Montgomery received a one-year contract.

Garza tweeted a thank-you to the Bears and their fans for their support during his 10 years with the team.

Fewer than four months ago, Garza signed a one-year extension to return under former general manager Phil Emery, who was fired just three days later. New GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox informed Garza of the team's plans to go another direction at the position.

"We have a great deal of respect for what Roberto has brought to the Bears over the last 10 years," 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."

A 14-year veteran, Garza has started in 175 of 205 career games, racking up 144 starts for the Bears. Garza missed four games last season due to an ankle injury. When the Bears signed Brian de la Puente last April to a one-year contract, it was believed he would eventually take over as the starting center. But de la Puente is currently a free agent looking for a team.

Chicago's signing of Montgomery likely means the Bears won't be looking to bring back de la Puente.

A 10-year veteran, Montgomery spent last season with the Broncos, but he played the previous six years for the Washington Redskins. Montgomery joined Washington in 2008 after spending the previous two years with the New York Jets.

Montgomery originally came into the league in 2006 as a seventh-round pick out of Virginia Tech with Fox and the Carolina Panthers.

Montgomery signed a one-year deal last April to join the Broncos, and the expectation was that he would compete for the starting job at center during offseason workouts and training camp. But Montgomery remained behind Manny Ramirez on the depth chart for the first half of the regular season.

Montgomery moved into Denver's starting lineup on Nov. 9 against the Oakland Raiders.