Devin Hester made his feelings clear when Lovie Smith was fired. He talked about retirement and the game not being fun any more:
“I don’t even know if I want to play again,” Hester said. “That’s been something on my mind for two years.
“It’s not (much fun for me anymore). I’ve got my workers comp papers in my pocket. We’ll see how I feel. I’m going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.”
He spoke with the Tribune’s Vaughn McClure and seemed to kind of back off those statements, but the greatest return man the league has ever seen might not be continuing with the Bears next season:
“I’m going to try to get two or three more years in,” Hester told the Tribune on Saturday. “I think I have that much left in me.
“At the same time, I think I do need a fresh start.”
Devin has never been known as the brightest bulb on Broadway, but if he’s looking for a fresh start, that situation is pretty much right here for him. With Marc Trestman coming in, the offense will be totally re-shaped. I’m sure that Brandon Marshall will still be the centerpiece of the offense, but there could be a role as a 4th receiver for Hester.
He is in the final year of his contract in 2013 and his contract is manageable with a $1.85 million base and slightly less than $3 million against the cap. It’s a small bet if the Bears coaching staff could rekindle the magic in the return game. If Hester is looking for a fresh start in the return game, new coordinator Joe DeCamillis has reached out to the sulking Bear and expressed his desire to keep him around.
New Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has reached out to Hester. The three-time Pro Bowl returner still owns the NFL record with 17 career kick return touchdowns despite not having one last season. His total likely will gain him some Hall of Fame consideration.
“He told me I had a lot left in my tank and he’d love to have me back,” Hester said of DeCamillis’ message. “He said he would hate to be coaching against me.”
Hester has been trying to carve out a role as a wide receiver ever since the Bears’ Super Bowl season. When he negotiated his next contract after his rookie deal, Jerry Angelo and the Bears decided to try to pay Hester like a #1 wide receiver, with a bonus laden deal filled his big escalators if he achieved certain milestones on offense. Hester hasn’t come close.
He caught a career high 57 balls in 2009 and his offensive production has been in steady decline ever since. Last season he caught a career low 23 passes. He realizes a lot of the failings were his own:
“Not only this year, but the last couple of years it has been like that,” said Hester, who added receiver to his resume in 2007. “It was really starting to show, why I was frustrated.
“I’m not making any excuses. I know some of the plays I should have made in terms of catching the ball. But I just wasn’t feeling it. My mind wasn’t there the majority of the time.”
His mind wasn’t in it?!?! Dude, you’re getting paid millions of dollars to catch a ball. I’m sorry, but that’s a weak excuse. Hester is an emotional kid and admitted as much to McClure. He feeds off his success and turtles when he struggles. We’ve witnessed it firsthand. The return touchdowns become contagious and feed off one another, but when he struggles, he’ll hang his head and sulk. Hester even acknowledged that he might seek a trade to get the fresh start he feels he needs:
The former second-round draft pick was asked if he would seek a trade.
“It’s a possibility,” he said. “I’m loyal to my team. But the fans and my teammates have to understand where I’m coming from.
“I don’t want to walk away from this game with another season going the way it ended this year. … It might have to take a fresh start somewhere else.”
I would say thanks for the great memories and fantastic returns but don’t let the door hit you on the way out of town, but his value on the trade market is virtually non-existent. Could the Bears nab a 5th or 6th rounder for Hester? Maybe a Jacksonville team desperate to put butts in the seats would overpay for a chance that Hester could spark their return game and draw some desperately needed fans in a return to his native Florida?
What do you think? Should the Bears grant Hester’s wish and trade him? What do you think he’s worth in the trade market?