The Atlanta Falcons brought back a familiar face Thursday by signing wide receiver/special-teamer Eric Weems to a one-year contract.
Weems (5-9, 195) entered the NFL with the Falcons back in 2007 as an undrafted free agent from Bethune-Cookman. He spent five seasons with the team before signing with Chicago Bears in 2012.
Weems was waived by the Bears last week in favor of Santonio Holmes, allowing Weems to test the free-agent market. Weems apparently took a physical with theTennessee Titans this week and was poised to sign, but negotiations hit a last-minute snag.
Weems' deal with the Falcons materialized late Wednesday night, according to a source familiar with the talks. Star receiver Roddy White actually went to bat for Weems with the coaching staff.
The Falcons apparently view the 29-year-old Weems as a rugged, physical player capable providing a boost on special teams, particularly in coverage and as a blocker. Last week's preseason loss to the Houston Texans magnified some of the special-teams issues. Special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong groomed Weems to begin with, so obviously Armstrong feels confident in what the veteran brings to the unit.
Weems still holds the Falcons' franchise record with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Tampa Bay in 2010. But the Falcons added ex-Bear and arguably the best return man of all time in record-setter Devin Hester to handle the return duties. Weems simply provides added insurance in the return game, if called upon for those duties.
At the top of Weems' wish list after parting ways with the Bears was rejoining the Falcons. He owns a house in the Atlanta suburbs and has stayed connected with players on the team. Weems was at an Atlanta Hawks game this offseason alongside Harry Douglas.
The addition of Weems brings an interesting dilemma in terms of the receiver situation. White, Douglas, Hester and Julio Jones are the main pieces of the group, while Courtney Roby is expected to stick as a special-teamer. With Drew Davis set to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, there will be an extra spot for a receiver. Coach Mike Smith said an undrafted rookie receiver such as Bernard Reedy had a better chance to make the 53-man roster based on Davis' status, but Smith said that before Weems signed a one-year deal worth $730,000.
To make room for Weems, the Falcons waived receiver Jabin Sambrano.