It is evident the Chicago Bears have their hearts set on improving a dreadful special teams unit, and their eyes on specifically fixing the return game.
Former Rams Rb/return ace Benny Cunningham is visiting the Bears today
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 21, 2017
Benny Cunningham is the latest free agent to pay a visit to Chicago. The former St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams running back and return specialist was reportedly visiting the Bears on Tuesday, according to reporter Jason LaCanfora. Cunningham has spent the entirety of his four-year career in the Rams organization, which began in 2013 when he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State.
Much of Cunningham’s value has been tied to his contributions as a kick returner, where he has averaged 27.1 yards per return in his career. Cunningham has finished in the top-10 in return yards and average yards per return in each of the last three seasons. As far as return specialists go, he is a proven commodity despite not owning a splashy name.
If Cunningham landed on the Bears, he would not project to receive many carries as a running back. Chicago is loaded at the running back position with Pro Bowl rookie Jordan Howard and second-year change-of-pace back Jeremy Langford already in the fold. Cunningham would have to leap-frog special teams ace Ka’Deem Carey for any carries that fall by the wayside.
Cunningham is the author of four career rushing touchdowns, his first coming against the Bears in a 42-21 Rams win on Nov. 24, 2013 in St. Louis. It was a career day for Cunningham, who rushed for 109 yards on 13 carries against a woeful Bears rush defense.
The Bears lost out on Cordarrelle Patterson, a receiver/return specialist who recently signed with the Oakland Raiders after visiting with the Bears.
Depending what happens with Cunningham, the Bears could look internally to find a return specialist. A number of their additions this offseason could fit the bill. For example, wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright both have experience in the return game, as does safety Quintin Demps.