It didn’t seem like the Bears and Santonio Holmes were a good match following his Aug. 5 workout, but almost two weeks later, the Bears signed Holmes to a one-year deal.
The corresponding move had the Bears terminating the contract of veteran Eric Weems.
No player on the roster has stepped up to grab the No. 3 wide receiver spot with Marquess Wilson out because of a fractured clavicle. Weems and Josh Morgan had been the frontrunners, but the Bears clearly want another veteran to add to the mix. This will essentially be a two-week tryout for Holmes to see if he can grab the No. 3 receivier position.
Holmes, 30, started all 11 games he played last season for the Jets and had 23 catches for 456 yards (19.8-yard average) and one touchdown. He missed five games with a hamstring injury.
He had missed only eight games in his first six seasons prior to a Lisfranc injury four games into 2012. In his career, Holmes has 381 catches for 5,963 yards and 36 touchdowns. He scored eight times for the Jets in 2011 and had 1,248 receiving yards for the Steelers in ’09.
Holmes has shown great speed and hands in his career, and, like, Brandon Marshall an impressive ability to get open and be a productive player, but Holmes has also had his fair share of off-the-field issues. He was suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was benched in the Jets’ 2011 season finale and reportedly clashed with Mark Sanchez and other teammates.
The Jets released Holmes in March. The Bears travel to play the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Monday night in Week Three.
Weems, 29, took a pay cut in the offseason to stick with the roster and was having a solid training camp. When Wilson went down, Weems at times played like one of the better No. 3 receiver candidates, but that was not translating to games.
In the two preseason games, Weems was the first wideout off the bench and on the field with Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. He had zero catches on three targets. As a kickoff returner, he had six returns for 139 yards (23.2-yard average) and a lost fumble against Jacksonville.
The Bears gave Weems every opportunity to win jobs at receiver and returner, and they know what they have in him. Weems' best contribution to the team comes in kick coverage, and the team has to be confident in who they have to fill in to replace him on special teams.
This keeps the battle to be the Bears' kickoff and punt returner still wide open. Chris Williams is expected to return from injury this week. It also removes Weems from the wide receiver battle, potentially opening another spot for Williams or Morgan.
The Bears are off Saturday and Sunday and return to practice on Monday prior to Friday’s preseason game in Seattle.