Bears sign veteran WR Santonio Holmes, release Eric Weems

Bears sign veteran WR Santonio Holmes, release Eric Weems
August 16, 2014, 9:45 am
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The Bears reached terms with a former Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Saturday morning. But all this actually is is a two-week, potentially career-deciding tryout for Santonio Holmes, and a roll-of-the-dice for general manager Phil Emery.

With a couple training camp (and potential 53-man roster spot) receiver options lost to injury through the first two preseason games in Chris Williams (hamstring) and tight end Zach Miller (season-ending foot), the Bears have decided to take a flyer on the 30-year-old they've tried out over the past few weeks.

The Bears have not given a timetable on a return for their projected No. 3 wide receiver, Marquess Wilson, who underwent surgery for a fractured clavicle nearly two weeks ago. With the exception of a slight uptick from veteran Josh Morgan's performance (three catches for 41 yards Thursday night against Jacksonville), none of the other candidates to step in for Wilson have particularly stepped up.

Not only must Holmes show he's a viable option physically, but he'll have to show he can mesh into the Marc Trestman culture. Holmes has been arrested twice on disorderly conduct and domestic violence and assault charges. He's also served a four-game suspension for a marijuana possession charge. On top of that, he's pulled the "someone hacked my Twitter account" excuse for comments following another incident for which he wasn't charged. He enters, for now, a wide receiver room at Halas Hall led by Brandon Marshall, a dynamic that should not be ignored.

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From a health and production standpoint, Holmes has played in just 15 games the past two years with the Jets due to a Lisfranc fracture in 2012. He caught 23 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown in 11 games last year in New York.

Holmes was named Super Bowl XLIII MVP after catching the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of Pittsburgh's 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He caught four passes from Ben Roethlisberger on that drive, and nine for 131 yards overall.

Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh was on the Jets' staff from 2010 through 2012 when Holmes was with the team.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Bears waived veteran Eric Weems to make room for Holmes. Weems was thought by many to be a front runner for that slot vacated by Wilson's injury, and was given the opportunity to win the kickoff and punt return job. But Weems fumbled a kickoff Thursday night against Jacksonville that led to a Jaguars touchdown. He was also unable to distinguish himself in the first two exhibitions within the offense, save for an impressive block that allowed Matt Forte to gain several extra yards after a reception against the Jags.

Weems had just three catches in his two seasons with the Bears, and his exit leaves the team's kick returning duties even more wide open among Williams (when he returns), and fellow backup wide receivers Michael Spurlock and Armanti Edwards, who have NFL experience returning both kickoffs and punts.

The Bears return to practice Monday in Lake Forest after three days off.  They'll work out three days before traveling to Seattle Thursday for Friday's most important preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks.