Will Devin Hester return to wide receiver role?

Will Devin Hester return to wide receiver role?
March 16, 2014, 10:15 am
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Devin Hester was given his due praise when the Bears announced, as expected, they wouldn't be re-signing the unrestricted free agent. The man with the most kick return touchdowns in NFL history provided more than his share of thrills in his eight seasons in Chicago.

But you have to wonder how his former coaches and teammates are reacting to a few of his quotes from an article by Chris Perkins in Sunday's South Florida Sun Sentinel.

[Julius Peppers: 'I have a lot left in the tank']

Appearing at a clinic as his former high school, Hester said Bears head coach Marc Trestman wanted him to play wide receiver when he arrived last season, but it was Hester who decided to focus strictly on the return game. There certainly had to be a meeting of the minds, but one wonders who had the predominant voice in that conversation.

Trestman and Phil Emery may not care to address the matter again about a player who is no longer with them, but in all likelihood, another Hester comment rings more clearly, saying he and some of his offensive teammates "weren't on the same page."

"It just didn't click on the offensive side of the ball," he said.

There were a lot of things wrong with the offense in 2011 and 2012, especially when considering the revolving door on the offensive line, but one of the more recurring rumblings of frustration came in relation to Hester's route-running and assignments. They were often linked to Jay Cutler, but the quarterback wasn't the only one in the room feeling it without necessarily saying it.

[Forte: Tough seeing guys like Devin Hester leave]

After catching 108 passes in 2008 and 2009 combined (a career-high 57 in the latter campaign), Hester's numbers and involvement declined to 40, 26 and then 23 receptions prior to last season, when the experiment ended. Johnny Knox became the better combo returner/receiver begfore his career-ending injury. Brandon Marshall came along. Then Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett came along. Matt Forte was catching more passes, too.

Hester is now talking about going back to receiver with whichever team signs him, with the hope of making himself more valuable to the 13 teams he says have expressed interest in him. But if other teams see what Hester sees in himself (he told Perkins he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash recently), he might've been signed by now as we head towards the second week of free agency.

Hester probably has a couple more return touchdowns in him. But in all likelihood, that's exactly — and strictly — how the rest of the NFL sees him.