The team also announced receiver and kick returner Eric Weems was released.
The Bears are looking for a third receiver behind stars Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marquess Wilson was battling for that job when he broke his collarbone last week.
A first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2006, Holmes was the Super Bowl MVP in his third year. He had his best season statistically the following year in 2009 with 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns.
But he was traded to the New York Jets the following offseason after the Steelers tired of his legal troubles.
The Jets released the 30-year-old Holmes in March after he had 23 catches -- the second-lowest total of his career -- for 456 yards in 11 games. He missed five games midway through the season with a hamstring injury. Holmes was limited to just four games in 2012 and was sidelined for several months after suffering a career-threatening foot injury.
Holmes was a controversial figure at times in New York, clashing with quarterback Mark Sanchez and the offensive linemen during the 2011 season.
Weems played the past two seasons in Chicago after spending his first five with Atlanta. He has 3,184 kickoff return yards and a touchdown and 815 punt return yards with a score to go with 26 receptions for 240 yards.