The Detroit Lions traded Williams in October 2008 to Dallas, which released him Thursday, freeing him to strike a one-year deal with Chicago. In 40 games with the Cowboys, Williams had 94 catches for 1,324 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Bears also agreed to terms with Anthony Adams, Vernon Gholston (one-year deal), Sam Hurd (three-year deal), Adam Podlesh (five-year deal), Nick Roach (two-year deal), Matt Spaeth (three-year deal), and Will Ta'ufo'ou (one-year deal). They also agreed to terms with restricted free agent Caleb Hanie and exclusive rights free agents Kahlil Bell and Edwin Williams.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was Williams' OC in Detroit when in 2006 the receiver had his most productive season (82 catches, 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns), the only one in which he played all 16 games.
Since then, Williams hasn't caught more than 64 balls or gained more than 838 yards receiving in a season.
Coach Lovie Smith liked that Williams was "another guy from the Lone Star state."
"I knew about him as a high school player, he was at the University of Texas, and then got a chance to compete (against) him when he was with the Lions," Smith said. "Big receiver, great speed, I know he's been a couple different places. We like bringing in players like this who we know. Mike Martz has had a relationship with him as far as him playing in the system. He played for Rod Marinelli. Darryl Drake recruited him in high school and was his position coach [at Texas].
We felt this was a good spot for him, but as much as anything, we felt like he [could] come in here and help us win games."
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler supported the signing.
"[Williams is a] heck of a player. The guy's been in this system so we wouldn't have to teach him that much, just kind of get him refreshed," Cutler said.
The Bears on Friday announced that second-round draft pick Stephen Paea, a defensive tackle out of Oregon State, signed a four-year deal.
The team agreed to terms with third-round pick Chris Conte. The California safety gets a four-year contract.