“For the past eight seasons we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. “While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.
“Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband and father. Devin represented the organization off-the-field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish him and his family all the best.”
Impending free agent Devin Hester confirmed that he will not be re-signing with the Bears this offseason during an appearance on the NFL Network.
“From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me,” Hester said, via ESPN Chicago. “All I can say is thanks to the fans for their support. They’ve always been great to me. Always been loyal. I couldn’t have played for a better city than those guys. At the end of my career, I do want to retire as a member of the Bears.”
Hester also mentioned that he would have interest in reuniting with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay.
“I look at Lovie as my number one coach right now because he’s the one that took a chance on me coming out of the draft,” Hester said. “He has all my respect so if he’s a guy that is going to shoot at me and want me to come play with him again, my arms are open.”
Hester, 31, produced by far the most kick return yards in single season of his career last year with 1,442. He also totaled 256 punt return yards and a touchdown for the Bears in 2013.
Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 6 kick returner in the league last season.
- Rapoport adds that it looks like Hester will reach the open market.
Chicago is reportedly looking for a kick returner who can contribute in other areas, so it seems very likely that he will be playing somewhere else next season.
Some have mentioned that the Buccaneers could be an option for him in free agency based on the fact that Tampa Bay has hired former Bears HC Lovie Smith.