Going into the season not many would have the expected a glaring need for wide receiver depth. At least, not this early on in the pre-season. Let alone the regular season. Before the second pre-season game the Bears lost what could've been a breakout player of sorts. Second year receiver out of Washington State, Marquess Wilson. He was lost for the foreseeable future due to a broken clavicle.
Enter the incumbent. On August 16th the Chicago Bears signed, Santonio Holmes or Tone Time as Rex Ryan came to call him was signed to a one year deal. He earned this monicker for his innate ability to show up in the clutch moments of the game. This ability was never better on display than when he took home the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XLIII.
Though Marquess Wilson has his upside and potential, he is a bit of a redundant skill set. Though quite honestly it's hard to complain about that. Standing 6'2" and reportedly having got up to around 210 or so pounds. Especially seeing as how Cutler loves his big targets.
The one thing this offense has lacked over the passed couple seasons since getting the bigger, taller receivers was the element of the big play or explosive downfield threat.
Once again, enter Holmes. For his career, he averages a career 15.7 yards per catch average. The other three top receiving targets are at 12.7 (Marshall), 15.8 (Jeffery), 10.9 (Bennett) yards per catch respectively. Though Jeffery boasts a higher average. Its been on a much smaller body of work or sample size if you will.
Though last season was cut short due to hamstring injury, Holmes still showed the ability to boast the big play nature of his game with a 19.8 YPC average. Incredibly high considering the offensive situation the Jets are and Smith was in his rookie year at QB.
Saying all of this, Holmes comes with his warts. He always seems to wear out his welcome. Whether it being saying things about his teammates or higher ups within the same organization. However this is a worthwhile gamble in my eyes. Especially if he's healthy.
His health is far from a given having missed 17 games over the passed two seasons. He suffered a grade four lisfranc injury (most serious) to close out the 2012 season and missed five games midway through 2013 with a hamstring injury.
His production never seemed to live up to that of which the talent level would suggest. Surpassing 1,000 yards receiving only once during his career in the 2009 season. However that could be because of the situations he has been in. After that breakout year he was traded to the Jets where they employed run first offense being lead by Mark Sanchez and his pedestrian 55.1% career completion percentage and his 71.7 career Quarterback Rating.
Couple the Jets' offensive struggles with the injuries and one may have the complete reasoning of why he has struggled in a sense, since leaving the Steelers going on five seasons ago. Admittedly, I'm probably higher on Holmes and his potential in Chicago's offense than some or even most.
He is the essence of low risk, high reward. Let's say he stay's healthy and we see a regression from the 19.8 YPC from last season to around 16 or so for this upcoming season and he is able to haul in three to six touchdowns or so with about 600-700 yards receiving. Those are highish projections. But seemingly within the realm of possibility given the Trestman offense and talent level of Holmes.
Only time will tell. If he proves he's not healthy, I'd venture to guess that he's on a deferred contract till the regular season starts making him essentially on a two week try-out. But if he is, he brings playoff and Super Bowl experience, an element of speed to an offense that is vastly lacking it and some return ability which another area that the Bears are very much lacking at.
When it's all said and done he probably makes the team. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. He could be an interesting piece to offense if/when he makes it. Projections are probably high but like I admitted I like him more than most. Only time will tell for Santonio in Chicago.