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NFL notebook: Bears replace longtime C Garza


The Sports Xchange

Longtime Chicago Bears center Roberto Garza was released Thursday in the latest move in a roster makeover by new general manager Ryan Pace.

Garza, 36, will be replaced by Will Montgomery, the former Denver Broncos center who played for current Bears coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase in 2014. Montgomery started eight games for the Broncos last season following five seasons with the Washington Redskins.

Garza signed a contract extension on Dec. 26, 2014, under former general manager Phil Emery, who was fired in January.

A 14-year veteran with 176 career starts, Garza began his career with the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2001, and signed with the Bears in 2005. He had started every game in seven of his 10 seasons with the Bears.

The Bears also released safety Anthony Walters, who played in 37 games for the Bears from 2011 to 2014.

—The Broncos agreed to terms with defensive lineman Antonio Smith on a one-year contract, reuniting him with the staff that coached him in Houston.

Smith, 33, was released by the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday — a move that saved $4 million in salary cap space for the Raiders.

Smith started all 16 games for the Raiders last season and had 20 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.

Smith played under new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Kollar in Houston from 2009 to 2013. Smith recorded 27 of his 44.5 career sacks during his five seasons in Houston.

—The Miami Dolphins signed linebacker Spencer Paysinger to a one-year contract and agreed to a one-year deal with quarterback Josh Freeman.

Freeman is returning to the NFL after being out of the league last season. He last played in 2013 with the Minnesota Vikings, starting one game before he was benched.

Freeman began his career in Florida with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former first-round draft pick turned in his best season in 2010 with 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions.

Paysinger is expected to fill a vacated spot on special teams after the Dolphins lost Jason Trusnik to the Carolina Panthers earlier this week.

—The Minnesota Vikings signed a pair of veteran combine participants, quarterback Mike Kafka and defensive end Caesar Rayford, and waived quarterback Pat Devlin.

With Kafka replacing Devlin, the Vikings still have three quarterbacks on the roster, including starter Teddy Bridgewater and backup Shaun Hill.

Kafka spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, backing up Josh McCown and Mike Glennon.

—Quarterback Josh Johnson, who was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013, returned to the team on Thursday.

The Bengals did not announce terms of his contract.

Johnson was drafted in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 and has bounced around the league, spending time with the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and San Francisco 49ers.

Johnson was on the 49ers’ roster for 13 games last season, although he was inactive for every game.

—The Oakland Raiders signed offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb.

A seventh-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2010, Webb has played 55 games, starting 45, for the Bears (2010-12) and Minnesota Vikings (2013-14).

Webb signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last year but did not make the team and returned to the Vikings in November.

He will be reunited with Bill Musgrave, who was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and is now the Raiders’ coordinator.

—The Atlanta Falcons waived safety Zeke Motta.

Motta was a seventh-round pick by the Falcons in 2013, and recorded 16 tackles while starting one game as a rookie. He missed last season with a neck injury that landed him on the reserve/physically unable to perform on Aug. 25.

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