Since Devin Hester’s departure after the 2013 season, the Bears have posted only two touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns at Soldier Field.
Cordarrelle Patterson, whom the Bears agreed to sign to a two-year deal for $10 million Tuesday, has two by himself.
As a member of the Vikings, Patterson scored the first time he touched the ball at Soldier Field, taking the opening kickoff of his second career game 105 yards for a touchdown. With the Patriots in October, he returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
When he steps onto the turf at Soldier Field this season, he’ll become the Bears’ best kickoff returner since Hester. His career average of 30 yards per kick return would rank second in Bears history among those who have returned at least 25 kicks. Gale Sayers averaged 30.6.
The Bears’ 19.1 yards per kick return last season ranked last in the league. Anthony Miller, Taquan Mizzell and Benny Cunningham each returned six or more kicks, and Tarik Cohen returned two. Cohen served as the Bears’ main punt returner last season; Patterson has returned only one career punt.
The Bears knew they needed to add an element of electricity when they replaced fourth and fifth receivers Josh Bellamy and Kevin White. Patterson gives them a dose of much-needed speed.
Patterson, a receiver by trade, also caught 21 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns last season. He took snaps at running back when the Patriots were hurting there, too. He led them in rushing in back-to-back victories against the Bills and Packers.
Patterson’s contract includes a $2 million signing bonus and $5 million guarantee.