The Bears announced the signing of kick returner/wide receiver Deonte Thompson on a one-year deal on Thursday.
After declining to extend him a tender offer on March 7 for $1.671 million, the Bears re-signed the 27-year-old to a one-year pact worth a total of $840,00. He'll earn a base salary of $760,000 and his cap hit is $680,000. He brings plenty of team speed to the Bears, something that head coach John Fox pointed out was an area of concern moving forward in Wednesday's meeting at the annual league meetings down in Boca Raton, FL.
Thompson spent the first two seasons of his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens and then latched on with the Buffalo Bills late in 2014. He played in Buffalo until reaching an injury settlement last September. Following that, the Bears picked up him and placed him on their practice squad. In Week 10, Thompson was promoted to the active roster and immediately made an impact as a return man.
Against Green Bay in an upset win on Thanksgiving night, Thompson had a 37-yard return. The following week versus San Francisco, he returned two kickoffs for 92 yards including a 74-yarder. Overall, he totaled 14 kickoff returns for 409 yards, an average of 29.2 yards per return (second-best mark in the NFL) after replacing the inefficient Marc Mariani.
He made a splash offensively with two receptions for a total of 81 yards, a 36-yarder in Week 14 against Washington and a career-long 45 yarder in the season finale against Detroit.
At 6'0", 203 lbs, Thompson isn't the biggest of receivers, but he's both fast and strong. He ended up playing just 44 total snaps on offense in seven games, but his presence on special teams as a return man was the best the Bears have had since Devin Hester departed after the 2013 season.
He proved to be a legitimate kick return man and at times was a nice deep threat offensively. He's a confident returner and brings an added dimension to special teams. Thompson was worth re-signing and the Bears should give him a chance to earn a place on the roster.
Thompson is the 13th player signed by the Bears this off-season and ninth player re-signed. Joining returner/receiver Marc Mariani, the Bears now have depth at that spot. Denver's defensive back Omar Bolden, who is both a returner and a special teams standout is scheduled to visit Halas Hall next week, according to the Tribune. Bolden could return punts while Thompson brings back kickoffs which would give the Bears plenty of spark on special teams.
Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson are the top four receivers on the roster currently while Thompson, Mariani, Josh Bellamy and Cameron Meredith will battle it out for the final couple of spots. Nathan Palmer and Marcus Lucas are also under contract on futures/reserves contracts.
Thoughts on the re-signing of Thompson?
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