The Bears signed Santonio Holmes on Saturday, and while this would have been a much more exciting signing four years ago, it’s still an interesting one today.
With Marquess Wilson going down with a broken collarbone in camp, the options the Bears had for the third receiver spot weren’t very inspiring, and now they’ve got an option in camp that could end up working out pretty well.
Holmes seemed destined to be a star while in Pittsburgh, improving in each of his first four seasons after the Steelers drafted him in the first round out of Ohio State. He finished the 2009 season with 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns, but it was his brilliant touchdown catch in the final minute to win the Super Bowl (pictured above) that really mattered. It would be the last pass he ever caught for the Steelers, though, as he’d use his big season and Super Bowl notoriety to sign a five-year $50 million deal with the Jets.
And then things went downhill.
His first season in New York wasn’t terrible. He missed four games to start the season thanks to a suspension (substance abuse), but he still caught 52 passes for 746 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games. After that, though, things weren’t nearly so pretty. Over the last three years Holmes has played in 31 games and caught 94 passes for 1,382 yards and 10 touchdowns. Not exactly the kind of production you’d expect from a guy after giving him a five-year $50 million deal.
But what remains to be seen, and we’ll find out with the Bears, is whether or not Holmes just fell off a cliff, or his drop in production was a byproduct of his surroundings.
Let’s not just dismiss what Holmes had to deal with in New York. First of all, he was in an offense that wasn’t exactly a passing offense, and when it was throwing the ball, it had guys like Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith toting the rock. I don’t care how good a receiver you are, if you’re playing with a quarterback that can’t get you the ball, it’s hard to put up numbers.
The Jets finished 32nd (that’s dead last) in the NFL in passer rating last season, and 30th the year before.
Now Holmes enters an environment in which he’s surrounded by talent, and in an offense that will certainly give him the chance to flourish. With both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as the top two options in the passing game, as well as Martellus Bennett stretching the middle of the field, Holmes should find plenty of room to work underneath in single coverage against safeties and linebackers. For a player with the ability that Holmes has shown, that could lead to good things.
Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Holmes is completely washed up and will never live up to the promise he showed in Pittsburgh, but if that happens, so what? It’s not like the Bears are actually relying on him for anything, they’re just taking a flier on him to see if maybe joining Marc Trestman’s offense can rejuvenate him.
It’s a shot worth taking.
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