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updated: 3/20/2014 3:08 PM

Hester agrees to 3-year deal with Falcons

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  • Former Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester has agreed to a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

      Former Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester has agreed to a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.
    Associated Press file


Devin Hester needs just 1 return touchdown to give him a career total of 20 to break his tie with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the all-time NFL record.

But if that happens next season, Hester won't claim the record in a Bears uniform, which he wore for his first 19 return touchdowns (13 punts, 5 kickoffs and 1 missed field goal return).

On Thursday afternoon, Hester agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 31-year-old Hester, who was a second-round draft pick of the Bears in 2006 out of Miami, led the NFL with 1,436 kickoff-return yards last season, and his 27.6-yard average was sixth best in the league. Hester's 14.2-yard punt-return average would have been third best, but his 18 attempts were 2 short of qualifying for NFL leaders.

Hester collected $2.1 million in his final season with the Bears, and he was seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $4 million a year, although financial terms of his contract with the Falcons were not immediately available.

Hester already is the NFL's all-time leader in combined kick-return and punt-return touchdowns with 18 (missed FG returns don't count). He has just 1 score in the last two seasons (on 134 attempts), since he scored on 3 returns (2 punts, 1 kickoff) in 2011.

A three-time Pro Bowl pick (2006, '07 and '10), Hester scored 11 return touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Bears on 152 chances.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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