Signing Santonio Holmes Could Be Huge Boost for Bears If WR Can Stay Healthy

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Signing Santonio Holmes Could Be Huge Boost for Bears If WR Can Stay Healthy
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On paper, the Chicago Bears receiving corps just got a whole lot more dangerous with the addition of former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bears and Holmes have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets standout to the Windy City. 

The presence of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery already gives the Bears one of the league's most threatening pass-catching tandems. The duo combined for an incredible 2,716 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago.

Now, Chicago has added Holmes to the mix.

Holmes should step into a prominent role almost immediately and form a formidable trio alongside Marshall and Jeffery.

Last year's third receiver, Earl Bennett, was signed and subsequently released by the Cleveland Browns in free agency and is currently a free agent. Second-year wideout Marquess Wilson, who was competing for that job, suffered a broken clavicle earlier this month.

This is a smart signing for the Bears, who should field one of the league's more explosive offenses in 2014. While Holmes only managed to produce 456 yards with the Jets' anemic passing-attack (ranked 31st, averaging 183.2 yards per game) last season, he still boasted an impressive 19.8 yards per reception. 

This gives Chicago three receivers who averaged at least 13.0 yards per reception in 2013.

The addition of Holmes also allows Chicago the freedom to continue to create mismatches by moving receivers around the field. 

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the 6'4", 230-pound Marshall was utilized in the slot on 43.8 percent of his snaps last season. Jeffery lined up in the slot 21.1 percent of the time.

In comparison, Holmes lined up in the slot 25.1 percent of the time in New York last season. This is close to the amount of snaps (29.9 percent) the departed Bennett saw in 2013.

This suggests that Holmes is a good fit to fill the role Bennett held a season ago. He and Jeffery can work primarily on the outside of formations while Marshall utilizes his size and strength to find holes in the middle of the field. According to Pro Football Focus, 60 of Marshall's 100 receptions came inside the numbers. 

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Holmes also brings playoff experience to a Bears team that has made just one postseason appearance in the past seven years. The veteran wideout has appeared in the playoffs three times during his eight-year career and was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIII.

As good as they are, Marshall and Jeffery have never experienced a playoff game. Quarterback Jay Cutler has made just one foray into the postseason.

The caveat here is that Holmes will have to prove he can remain healthy if he is to take the Bears passing assault to the next level. He was hampered by a hamstring injury in 2013 and suffered a serious Lisfranc injury the season before.

In all, the veteran pass-catcher has missed 17 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, which is likely why teams have shied away up until this point.

2013 Receiving Statistics
Rec Yds TD Avg
Brandon Marshall 100 1,295 12 13.0
Alshon Jeffery 89 1,421 7 16.0
Santonio Holmes 23 456 1 19.8

via NFL.com

If Holmes can avoid serious injury this season, he could be exactly the type of quick, savvy and sure-handed receiver the Bears can use to exploit the attention Marshall and Jeffery attract.

This, in turn, makes the Bears offense even more imposing than before and perhaps as frightening as any in the league.

This is only on paper, of course, and can only happen if Holmes stays healthy for the better part of the regular season and the playoffs. 

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