Dec/31/13 08:49 AM Filed in: Devin Hester
Bears kicker returner Devin Hester doesn’t want to be strung along. He wants to be told what the team envisions for him.
Hester, one of 27 Bears with an expiring contract, wants an answer as quickly as one of his cuts on the field.
“I really want to know right away,” Hester said after the Bears’ season-ending loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. “I’m the type of guy that I don’t want to go through the whole offseason not knowing where I’m going to be at. So hopefully we can get something done. Like I said, I want to retire as a Bear. I put in too much hard work here, and I did a lot of things around here and I’m pretty sure the fans want me back. So who knows?”
What Hester should know is that his potential replacement might have just moved into a locker at Halas Hall not far from his. The Bears’ decision to sign returner/receiver Chris Williams off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad Thursday could be an indication where the Bears are headed with Hester. Williams has a three-year contract; Hester does not.
Williams set a Canadian Football League record with six return touchdowns in 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. An undrafted free agent from New Mexico State in 2009, Williams also had 1,117 punt-return yards and 83 receptions for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns that season. He’s considered an intriguing prospect.
“I had a few offers [from other teams],” Williams said Monday. “I was in a good situation in New Orleans, and I decided to stick that out. And then Chicago came, and obviously [there’s] familiarity. Once I sat down with my family and we just started talking, this seemed like the best place for me to continue my football career, so we made the move.”
His familiarity is with coach Marc Trestman.
“Obviously, I have a bit of history with coach Trestman playing against him up there in Canada,” Williams said. “A lot of the staff has seen me play before. They know what I’m capable of. I’m just excited to get going.”
Used exclusively as a return specialist this season, Hester was revitalized. He tied the NFL career record for return touchdowns (19, with Deion Sanders) in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins with an 81-yard punt return, and he set a team single-game record with 249 kick-return yards in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings. Teams still accounted for his game-changing ability, often kicking away from him.
Hester, 31, said it hurt coming off the field Sunday knowing it might be his last game with the Bears.
“This is where I was born and raised,” Hester said. “It’s not like I played three years and went six years somewhere. My whole eight years has been here.”
Williams said he didn’t feel like he was replacing Hester, saying he believes he’s just as effective as a receiver. Either way, he knows what Hester has meant to the Bears.
“Devin is amazing,” Williams said. “He’s one of the greats of all-time.”