Let me start this by saying, I LOVE Devin Hester. He is my second favorite player on the Bears. That being said, he is getting paid like a #1 receiver, while producing like a #4. At his age, with his skill-set, and after so many years playing, it is much more logical to assume that he is on the downside of his career than to hold out hope that he is going to develop into a better football player. He will turn 30 this season and has already started to slow down.
The Bears have gone all out to improve this club, and they are essentially out of financial wiggle-room. In order to make any additional moves, they are going to have to cut salary - which means cutting some of our more highly paid players.
Hester is arguably the most easy to replace, highly paid player on the Bears roster. The Bears signed Weems and Thomas, this off-season - two players more renowned for their return skills than their receiving prowess. If Hester is released, the Bears have adequate replacements, and if you believe that Hester has lost a couple steps, you could argue that neither Thomas nor Weems would be downgrade.
This year, Hester makes about $7,000,000 (though he could make more through performance incentives). Of that amount, $5,000,000 is guaranteed, so the Bears would only save $2,000,000 by cutting Hester this year.
However, next season, Hester is scheduled to make over $12,000,000, none of which is guaranteed. Though it breaks my heart, I believe that there is a decent chance that Hester gets cut this year, and even if Hester lasts through this season, I cannot see him being back on the team next year. At this point, I am just holding out hope for one more year of watching the Windy City Flyer.