Devin Hester Looking Forward To Best Return Yet
For the first time since 2006, the Chicago Bears will take the field Week 1 without dangerous return specialist Devin Hester waiting back deep, licking his chops at the opportunity to take another kickoff to the house.
Hester, who is currently tied with Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders for most return touchdowns of all time (19) was informed by the Bears last week that he will not be returning to the team in 2014.
And so, one of the most prolific return men in NFL history is set to hit the free agent market.
Last season, Hester showed that he still has the ability to instill fear in the hearts of kickers and special teams coordinators alike when he averaged 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 14.2 yards per punt return. He also had an impressive 81-yard punt return TD against the Washington Redskins.
At the same time though, Hester had his wide receiver duties taken away from him by new head coach Marc Trestman and was utilized strictly as a return man.
At 31 years of age, which teams would be willing to take a flyer on a guy whose largest – and perhaps only – contributions would come in the return game?
I can think of a few.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hester could bring his talents to the Buccaneers and help shore up a middle-of-the-pack return game while providing some depth at the WR position for a rebuilding franchise. Hester played for new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith previously, and has already stated that he would like to play for him again.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints had a lackluster return game in 2013 and will be in the market for a special teams weapon after the release of RB Darren Sproles. While cutting one aging player just to bring in another may not make the most sense, Hester could also provide depth at WR should New Orleans fail to sign younger target Dexter McCluster.
The Redskins had the worst kick return game in the NFL last season and tried to generate a spark by having several different players back deep over the course of the year. Hester could come in and immediately be “the guy” in Washington.
Green Bay Packers
It would not be a proper offseason in the NFL if a franchise did not have a fan favorite leave only to sign on with a division foe. Green Bay could use an upgrade in the return game and Hester may like the idea of returning to Chicago to break the all-time return record – against his former team.
Regardless of where he signs this offseason, Hester will reestablish himself as one of the most fearsome return specialists in the NFL.
That is one return that I for one am looking forward to.