Jay Cutler has a new toy. Free agent WR Santonio Holmes came to terms on a one- year contract with the Chicago Bears over the weekend after the Bears realized their search for the third wide receiver position was not going to be found internally. After the injury to Marquess Wilson and the failure of any other receivers to separate themselves, GM Phil Emery knew they needed to add a veteran receiver.
With Holmes in the mix, the Bears have potentially added a big-time weapon for Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman to utilize. The Bears have also potentially added a giant headache into the mix as well. This signing is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward.
The rewards could be plentiful. This is the same Santonio Holmes who won Super Bowl MVP for the Pittsburgh Steelers after catching nine balls for 131 yards and capped it off by making a remarkable game-winning catch in the corner of the end zone. This is the same Holmes who followed up his Super Bowl MVP performance by having a career year in 2009, catching 79 passes for 1,248 yards. But this is the same Holmes who Pittsburgh dumped to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick after his stellar 2009 season because they no longer wanted him on the roster.
The baggage that comes with Holmes is plentiful. He has admitted to dealing drugs as a teenager. Holmes was arrested twice in 2006, once for disorderly conduct and once for domestic violence. In 2008 Holmes was arrested for marijuana possession. Later that year, Holmes found more legal trouble after an incident in an Orlando nightclub where he cut a woman above the eye after throwing a glass at her. The list doesn’t end there, as in 2010 Holmes was removed from a flight prior to departure after refusing to comply with regulations and turn off his iPod.
Future Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson told Inside the NFL that he’s never seen a quarterback-receiver relationship worse than the one Holmes had with Mark Sanchez. An unnamed Jets player told the New York Daily News in 2012 that Holmes was “a cancer” and is like “dealing with a 10-year-old.” Holmes has also been documented to pout on the field if he doesn’t see enough balls his way and also had a meltdown in practice after he felt the coaches were working him too hard.
Bears fans, this is the newest member of your team. Holmes is the type of personality that could rip the locker room apart, but he’s the type of talent that could propel the Bears offense into historical greatness.
Holmes needs to understand that he will have a reduced role in the Bears’ offense compared to what he’s been used to throughout his career. He needs to know that he will not surpass Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall no matter how well he performs on the field.
If Holmes has been humbled by the struggles he’s had with the Jets the last two years, he could be an excellent acquisition. If Holmes has matured and put the legal troubles that plagued him over the past decade behind him, he could be a veteran leader on the team. If Holmes stays healthy (he missed 17 games the last two seasons) he could be a dynamic receiving threat for the Chicago offense.
Make no mistake about it; Holmes is playing for a contract. He is only 30 years old, and feels he has plenty of football in front of him. His plan is simple: have a good year in Chicago and turn that into a multi-year contract offer from another club. Does Holmes think he can do that by being a good soldier and helping the Bears when he’s called upon, or does he think he can do that by trying to take the Chicago offense by storm? If it’s the latter, he will quickly find himself annoyed and creating havoc in the locker room. If it’s the former then the Bears will have found a gem of an acquisition that gives them the best receiving trio in the NFL since the 2000 St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf” with Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Ricky Proehl.
Unfortunately, the Bears don’t know which Holmes they’ve acquired. Only he knows for sure.