Earlier today, Zach Zaidman tweeted out an interesting nugget about former Bears return man turned receiver/return-man turned return man.
Devin Hester to Sun-Sentinel: "Coach Trestman wanted me for receiver, but I told him I’d rather just focus on kickoff and punt returns."— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) March 16, 2014
Something in the last year or so must have changed his mind about playing receiver, because now he says he's open to playing the position. The reason he didn't last year?
"Me and some of the guys on the offensive side weren't on the same page," Hester said. "I said if we're not on the same page we can just let me focus on kickoff and punt returns...It just didn't click on the offensive side of the ball."
Whether or not Trestman wanted Hester to play the spot, who knows - Hester could just be trying to build himself up as a versatile athlete now (which would fit right in on the Phil Emery Bears, just saying).
Devin Hester was not a productive wide receiver over his Bears tenure. Over the six years he caught passes (which excludes his rookie year and last season), Hester only broke 600 yards twice and never went over 800 yards. As a deep threat or run-after-catch speed player, Hester only topped 14 yards-per-reception twice (14.2 in 2011 and 15.0 in 2007). His 2008 and 2009 seasons showed he could have been a productive receiver in a lesser role, but he just never built off it.
The thing is, it was a worthy experiment to try. If you have a dynamic playmaker as a return man, you want to give him more opportunities to get the ball. And sometimes, they work (like his one-handed grab in the end zone against the Cowboys in 2010, or quite a few of his matchups against the Vikings). Other times, they don't. And over the long term, it was shown to not have worked, and certainly not for the money the Bears gave him to be a high-priority receiver.
If Devin finds a job in the NFL in 2014 (and with 13 teams in the mix for him, it's probably going to happen), it won't be because of his receiving skills, and certainly not as a high-priority target.