Chicago, IL, United States (4E Sports) – Devin Hester’s hunch that he won’t be called back by the Chicago Bears after eight seasons has been confirmed by general manager Phil Emery.
“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,” said Bears general manager Phil Emery in a statement.
The 31-year-old return specialist will become an unrestricted free agent March 11.
” I’ve always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like,” Hester posted on Facebook, Wednesday.
Hester shares the NFL record of 19 career return touchdowns with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
He averaged 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 14.2 yards per punt return last season, tying Sanders’ touchdown record with an 81-yard punt return against the Redskins in October.
Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Miami (57th overall), Hester was voted to three Pro Bowls, won 13 special teams player of the week awards and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s by the Associated Press and ESPN.
In 2013, Hester ranked sixth in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 27.6-yard average. He leaves the Bears as the franchise’s all-time leader in punt return yards (3,241), kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745), punt returns (264) and kickoff returns (222).
Hester addressed the possibility of a reunion in Tampa Bay with new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, his head coach for his first seven NFL seasons.
“Because he’s the one that took a chance on me coming out of the draft. He has all of my respect so if he’s a guy who is going to shoot at me and want me to come play with him again, my arms are open,” said Hester.