When the Bears made tight end Martellus Bennett a priority signing in free agency, it made more than Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth expendable.
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It confirmed a portion of the future of Devin Hester as well. Or rather his non-future.
After last season, there was little question that Hester’s football zeal was at a low point. Insiders said that his lack of chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler was never going to develop – no surprise after four seasons of deterioration – and that Hester, who turns 31 in November, was returning his focus to being a kick returner first, receiver second.
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Coach Marc Trestman is not envisioning Hester as a receiver, per various reports of remarks during this week’s owners meetings in Phoenix.
Bennett played 945 snaps (90 percent) for the New York Giants last season and is expected to be the every down tight end that Davis had the opportunity to be in 2012. That leaves Hester, whose participation rate has declined from an average of 648 from 2008-2010 to 487 in 2011 and 369 in 2012, with virtually no opening on offense anyway.
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That offense will include plans for a Bears version of the read-option, with some interesting implications for Cutler. The Bears quarterback has lobbied for more use of his natural mobility in the past but at age 30 he will be tasked with not only learning a fourth Bears system (Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Marc Trestman/Aaron Kromer) in five years, but also becoming at least an occasional option quarterback.