In 2008 Devin Hester signed a new contract for 4 years worth up to $40 million. The final $10 million of that to be paid before his last year contingent upon reaching number one receiver status as a Bear. That year the Bears finished the transformation of the most prolific return man in NFL history into a full time, mediocre wide receiver. In 2008 he caught 51 passes for 665 yards and 2009 saw his receptions and yards increase minimally. Offensively, Hester will likely not top his 2009 season meaning he’ll never see his $10 million roster bonus.
Fast forward 2 seasons and the home opener showed us what Devin Hester is meant to be. A 3rd receiver on an average wide receiver staff. Hester caught one ball for 17 yards against a poor Lions secondary who allowed over 370 yards of passing yards on the day. Devin Aromashodu pulled in 71 yards on 5 receptions, Johnny Knox caught three passes for 52 yards and Forte caught passes totaling over 150 yards. Cutler threw 35 times on Sunday meaning plenty of passes to go around but too few went the way of our so-called number one pass catcher.
In one game the Martz, Cutler combination has shown us the gaudy numbers the Bears can put up with average wide outs. Martz showed more faith in Aromashodu and Knox than Hester with the number of plays he called for them. Cutler looked more comfortable looking everywhere but Hester’s way when scrambling for his life. Shortly after Martz joined the Bears coaching staff he compared Hester to former Ram slot receiver Az-Zahir Hakim. He spoke of him as a special team stand out who could be an asset as a 3rd receiver in his explosive offense. Though Lovie Smith quickly responded reiterating the Bears confidence in Hester as the top receiver, actions during the season will speak louder than words. Hester may still catch 30-40 passes this year but will never be what Angelo hoped he’d be when they made him the richest return man in the NFL.