D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta Falcons have signed Arizona Cardinals cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas to a one-year deal.
Arenas is the third addition made by the Falcons this offseason that was formerly drafted by new assistant GM Scott Pioli during his tenure in Kansas City. Arenas was selected with the second-round pick in 2010 that the Falcons traded to the Chiefs in 2009 in exchange for tight end Tony Gonzalez.
In three years with the Chiefs, Arenas played primarily as the team’s nickel/slot cornerback. He started 12 of 47 games, recording 146 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, and 22 pass deflections in that span. During that time, he served as the team’s punt and kickoff returner too. He averaged 9.8 yards per return on 105 punt returns. He averaged 21.1 yards on 51 kickoff returns. He failed to score a touchdown during his time in Kansas City.
He was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last year in exchange for fullback Anthony Sherman. He finished with 12 tackles and a sack in 16 games as a reserve cornerback. He did not return punts, but returned 23 kickoffs for an average of 21.4 yards.
Arenas was a prolific returner during his time at Alabama, averaging 14 yards per punt return and scoring seven times during his four-year career there. He is the SEC’s all-time leader in punt returns (125), punt return yards (1,752) and punt return touchdowns (7). He earned All-American and All-SEC honors as a senior.
The Falcons had been looking at return specialists over the weekend, with Trindon Holliday visiting on Friday, while Devin Hester visited the team earlier today. Arenas has the potential to replace Robert McClain and Harry Douglas on punt returns, along with Jacquizz Rodgers on kickoff returns.