ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 3-4 -FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2013, file photo, New York Jets' Santonio Holmes (10) catches a pass for a touchdown as Buffalo Bills defensive back Justin Rogers (26) defends during the second half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Even as NFL teams make a huge deal out of their discoveries from the hinterlands of college football, it's the big schools from the powerhouse conferences that dominate the draft. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) ORG XMIT: NY207
Updated: September 18, 2014 6:49AM
With an already gaping hole at No. 3 wide receiver only getting larger since Marquess Wilson suffered a broken collarbone two weeks ago, the Bears took a low-risk roll of the dice and signed 2009 Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to a one-year contract Saturday.
To make room for Holmes, the Bears cut kickoff returner Eric Weems, whose struggles at wide receiver in the first two preseason games put a spotlight on the dearth of proven receivers behind Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
Holmes worked out for the Bears the day after Wilson suffered the injury, but they instead signed unknown and unproven second-year wide receiver Greg Herd.
But the extent of Wilson’s rehabilitation after undergoing surgery — the Bears have not announced a timetable, but acknowledged Wilson will miss at least the beginning of the regular season — and the fact no player has stepped up in Wilson’s absence likely forced the Bears’ hand a bit to take a chance on the enigmatic Holmes.
It’s an intriguing option, to say the least. Holmes, 30, is a dynamic, clutch performer whose dramatic six-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIII gave the Steelers a 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in 2009.
The next season, Holmes had 79 receptions for 1,248 yards (15.8 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.
But Holmes also has a history of legal issues and a reputation for being a disruptive personality that have played at least a part in him being dumped by two playoff-caliber teams at the peak of his career.
After the breakout season of 2009, the Steelers traded Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick after it was revealed Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
The Jets cut him in March after four mostly disappointing seasons in which he clashed with teammates and couldn’t stay healthy after signing a five-year, $45 million contract following a solid 2010 season. Holmes played in only four games in 2012 because of a foot injury. Last season, he missed five games with hamstring problems.
Weems, the Bears’ fourth-leading special-teams tackler last season, was given first chance at replacing Devin Hester as the Bears’ primary kick returner and also thrown into the mix at No. 3 receiver after injuries to Wilson and Chris Williams. But he struggled in both roles. He was targeted by Jay Cutler three times without a catch in the first two preseason games and fumbled a kickoff against the Jaguars on Thursday.