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updated: 4/6/2014 9:45 PM

Former Saint signs 1-year deal with Bears

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The Bears on Sunday solved the problem of what to do in the future at the center position after 35-year-old Roberto Garza's playing days are over.

Unrestricted free agent Brian de la Puente, who will be 29 next month and was a 44-game starter over the past three seasons for the New Orleans Saints, agreed with the Bears on a one-year deal. The 6-foot-3, 306-pound de la Puente is expected to back up Garza this season and could eventually replace him in the middle of the Bears' O-line. The former undrafted free agent can also back up starting guards Matt Slauson and Kyle Long.

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Garza re-signed with the Bears on Feb. 27, signing a one-year deal for $1.5 million. De la Puente became a starter for the Saints under the tutelage of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who was hired as the Bears' offensive coordinator in early 2013. His deal with the Bears is for $645,000 and includes a $65,000 signing bonus.

The Bears have now signed 30 players since the final week of the 2013 season, including 17 of their own free agents, 10 free agents from other teams and three street free agents.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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