This is a somewhat surprising move, as Weems has taken a healthy share of his reps with the first team during training camp and was the first-team kick and punt returner in both practice and the preseason.
Weems, a former Pro Bowl kick returner, signed with the Bears as a free agent in 2012. He caught just three total passes the past two years but he's been a core member of every special teams unit. He willingly took a pay cut this offseason yet obviously the coaching staff didn't feel he was worth a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Weems struggled in Thursday's contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars, showing little vision, balance or burst on four kick returns.
The timing of the move is consistent with teams who want to give a veteran time to sign with another club before the start of the regular season.
Here is the official press release:
LAKE FOREST, IL – The Chicago Bears have signed WR Santonio Holmes to a one-year contract and terminated the contract of vested veteran WR Eric Weems.
The Super Bowl XLIII MVP has hauled in 381 receptions for 5,963 yards (15.7 ypc) and 36 touchdowns over eight NFL seasons with the Steelers (2006-09) and Jets (2010-13) after being selected by Pittsburgh in the first round (25th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. He has added 66 punt returns for 536 yards (8.1 ypr) and a touchdown, 18 kickoff returns for 436 yards (24.2 ypr) and 16 carries for 89 yards (5.6 ypc).
In the postseason, the 5-11, 192-pound Holmes has started five-of-seven games played hauling in 25 receptions for 402 yards and five touchdowns. He has added seven punt returns for 103 yards (14.7 ypr) and a touchdown and two carries for seven yards.
The Belle Glade, Fla. native started all 11 games played for the Jets in 2013 hauling in 23 receptions for 456 yards (19.8 ypr) and one touchdown.
Weems appeared in 87 games with seven starts at WR over seven NFL seasons with Atlanta (2007-11) and Chicago (2012-13), recorded 815 punt return yards and a touchdown on 78 punt returns (10.4 ypr) and 3,184 kickoff return yards and a touchdown on 131 returns (24.3 ypr). The 2010 Pro Bowl selection added 66 career special teams tackles and 26 receptions for 240 yards (8.9ypr) and two touchdowns.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.