On Thursday, the Bears welcomed back a familiar face.
Wide receiver/kick returner Deonte Thompson agreed to a one-year deal, the team announced.
The 28-year-old Florida product is the 12th player re-signed by the Bears and 22nd player added this off-season.
Thompson originally joined the Bears’ practice squad in Sept. 2015 before earning a promotion to the active roster two months later. He played for Baltimore (2012-13) and Buffalo (2014) prior to that.
A year ago, 6’0″, 205-pounder set career highs in catches (22), yards (249) and touchdowns (2) making six starts in 16 appearances. He never started a game in his career prior to last season.
He averaged 23.0 yards per kickoff on 35 returns with a long of 64 yards in 2016. His 804 kickoff return yards ranked second to only Cincinnati’s Alex Erickson. For his career, he’s averaged 25.4 yards on kickoffs including a high-mark of 29.2 yards in 2015, which was second to Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
However, Thompson will have some veteran competition in 26-year-old running back/returner Benny Cunningham. The former Rams special teamer signed with the Bears on a one-year deal Tuesday. He had 22 kickoff returns for 599 yards a season ago with a long of 61 yards and a 27.2 average.
With touchbacks now set at the 25-yard line for at least another year as the league experiments, kickoff returns are coming less of a factor in games.
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