Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a three-year contract with former Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester. Hester’s signing comes on the heels of the Falcons adding another return threat in cornerback Javier Arenas, although it’s fully expected that Hester will be the primary returner for the Falcons moving forward.
Hester, 31, comes to the Falcons after eight seasons with the Bears where he went to the Pro Bowl three times for his return prowess. He is the league’s active all-time leader in punt returns(264), yards (3,241) and touchdowns (13). That latter mark also stands as the best of any punt returner in NFL history. His career average of 12.3 yards per return is seventh on the all-time list as well.
Hester has also achieved success as a kickoff returner with five scores there, the eighth most all-time. His 19 non-offensive touchdowns are tied for the most of any player in NFL history alongside former Falcon great Deion Sanders.
Hester began his career as a cornerback, thus why he sports the No. 23 on his uniform. But he was quickly moved to wide receiver during his second season with the Bears. His production on offense has been erratic, but he’s seen significant playing time the past five seasons with 46 starts in that span. He’s caught 217 passes for 2,807 yards (12.9 avg) and 14 touchdowns. His best season came in 2009, when he had career highs of 57 catches and 757 yards, along with three touchdowns.
Originally Hester was a second-round pick by the Bears out of Miami in 2006.