Did the Chicago Bears make a mistake by letting Devin Hester leave? That’s a question that will be visited and re-visited throughout the season, but one thing that irks me is when people say he wasn’t valuable anyway.
Devin Hester played most of his career on a team that suffered from offensive stupidity and was forced to try and do too much…. there, I said it. As a Hall of Fame caliber return man, Hester excelled in the NFL and others will be trying to copy his type of production for the next 10-20 years.
This graph by ESPN clearly shows Devin Hester’s dominance in the return game since 2006. Still think that doesn’t have value? Most people are probably saying, “well, he didn’t do all of this last year” which is true, but hopefully you looked at his numbers last year before saying that.
Hester led the NFL in kickoff return yards in 2013 as a member of the Chicago Bears, finished 6th in average yards per kickoff return and had a punt return touchdown. Still think that isn’t valuable?
The real problem with Hester was his four year contract worth over $40 million. When an athlete comes to the NFL and does things that nobody has seen before, it’s difficult to determine his pay check. The Chicago Bears weren’t the first team in history to hit a cross-roads with a return man, but they were the first to hit the cross-roads with the best return man in history…. think about that.
When Devin Hester got paid, Chicago demanded more from him because Lovie Smith had no idea how to run an offense. If Hester would have never tried to become a receiver, he would still be returning kicks in Chicago and making a ton of money doing it. Paying Hester what he was worth was a no-brainer, demanding more than he can handle while ignoring the offensive struggles was a cause for disaster.
Could you image starting at the 35 yard line every kickoff with this offense? No, you can’t because the Chicago Bears thought others could do just as good of a job.
That remains to be seen.
In any case, breaking the all-time return record in a Falcons’ uniform will be an injustice that could have been prevented. You will be missed Devin.