The Chicago Bears started training camp fresh off Brian Urlacher’s contract extension and Chris Williams signing and hoping for good karma going into the season. Instead, they had the rug pulled out from under them when Devin Hester didn’t show up to training camp and announced he was holding out for a better contract.
Hester has been negotiating with the Bears all summer and both sides appeared to be slowly reaching an inevitable agreement. Today’s announcement came as a shock to coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo, who thought everything was going well. Hester was quoted as saying that he needs to hold out from training camp to make a statement. Undoubtable it was heard and the team is now send scrambling to try to get a contract together for their top kick returner and possibly top receiver threat.
Hester will make $445,000 this season and he will be fined $15,000 for every day that he doesn’t show up to training camp. Both numbers figure to be miniscule compared to the dollar amount he is due in a new contract.
The hardest part of signing Hester is due to him just being Hester. Teams usually rely on comparing players to similar players in the league at the same position and reaching a fair dollar amount based on their position value. Comparing Hester to other return men in the league would be laughable and unfair considering his level of talent. Just by stepping onto the field he changes the dimension of the game.
Hester will want money unprecedented for a return man and will want to incorporate his added duties as top receiver. He is going to demand top dollar from the Bears and the team is going to struggle to talk him back down to a reasonable number. No matter how you shape it, Hester is likely to be rewarded with a huge contract and become the richest return man in the league. It just remains to be seen how long he has to hold out of camp before both sides reach an agreement.
Hester is using the same agent that Cedric Benson used and Benson was handsomely rewarded as a rookie with huge money.