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These guys do not mess around.
Phil Emery, his scouting staff, cap guru Cliff Stein, Marc Trestman, whoever was in on the decision to sign receiver Santonio Holmes - and obviously Emery had the final say - you have to be impressed with this move.
That doesn't mean Holmes will definitely be the final piece of the puzzle for the Bears on offense. Then again, and to keep this all in perspective, all NFL teams should be so fortunate to have a "final piece of the puzzle" be the primary concern on one side of the ball midway through the exhibition season. The Bears are set at quarterback, the primary receiver spots, running back, tight end and on the offensive line (where there are minor injury concerns but also some depth). They are looking for one more playmaker/blocker-in-space on offense and their first 11 will be complete.
That is the case because the first two candidates for that spot have already bowed out, at least for a while. Second-year man Marquess Wilson was the first guy in line but suffered a broken clavicle in practice earlier this month. Then it appeared that free agent receiving tight end Zach Miller was the next man up - until he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his foot in the Bears' most recent preseason game. He is out for the year.
There are significant concerns about Holmes' overall wellness at this point after the wide receiver suffered a series of injuries with the Jets the last few seasons (coincidentally his primary problem was also of the Lisfranc variety - that injury involves metatarsal bones being violently displaced away from the tarsus network of bones in the middle of the foot - not a good thing for a receiver).
Holmes, who also has a deserved reputation as a malcontent lowlighted by an incident in 2011 in which he argued with a teammate in the middle of a game and was subsequently benched, was unsigned at this late date for a reason.
Holmes also has a pattern of off-field problems, including an arrest on domestic violence charges in 2006. Those charges were later dismissed in lieu of counseling. He was also named in a suit filed in 2010 alleging that he threw a glass at a woman in a VIP area of an Orlando nightclub. He was not charged in that incident, however, and it does not appear as though there was any sort of official civil finding against him.
Still, the Bears have a need and they found a way to sign a 30-year-old guy who could be way better than the average free-agent pick-up at this point in the process. Every other team still has 90 guys on its roster.
It wasn't so long ago that Holmes was starring at wide receiver for the Steelers to such an extent that he won a Super Bowl MVP (2009). The veteran could also offer the Bears an upgrade in the return game; he has returned punts during his career.
And surely it is not a coincidence that the Bears released Eric Weems, who had done most of the returning (poorly) for the team during the first two preseason games, at the same time that they signed Holmes.
Perhaps the coolest thing happening here is that there is a real good chance Holmes was waiting to sign with a team he thought had a potential championship offense. This is the sort of thing that happens when a successful team starts rolling downhill - it just gets bigger and bigger, i.e., talented and more talented.
Of course, there is a chance that Holmes will become a problem in the locker room or that he just won't stay healthy enough anymore to contribute significantly to an NFL offense. But clearly this is a chance the Bears should absolutely take (sorry about the extra adverb but I just couldn't help myself).
Bear defensive end David Bass provides by far the best account I've seen of the difficulty of growing up African American in St. Louis in light of Ferguson.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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