This past Tuesday the Atlanta Falcons released the best returner in football history, Devin Hester. It is no secret that the Buccaneers have no return threat, so is it finally time they have found their answer?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not had a kickoff returned for a touchdown in six years. The special teams unit of the Bucs have never been a highlight of the team and Jason Licht is still planning to change that. Going into the 2016 season, the Bucs have Adam Humphries as the main returner on the team and although Humphries would be able to do the job, his flash just does not compare to that of the recently cut Devin Hester.
It has only been two days since the release of the 33-year-old Hester, and not much has arisen about where he may end up next. Now that his age is beginning to catch up with him, the best return man in NFL history is beginning the end of his career, but he has no plans to retire. Hester truly believes he still has some gas left in the tank to help better a team, so why not the Bucs?
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In 2006 the Chicago Bears selected Hester out of Miami to bring a truly special talent to the Windy City. Hester was able to burst onto the scene his rookie year and produce a total of five special teams touchdowns. This elite talent that the Bears were able to acquire helped lead them to the playoffs and eventually to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Bears lost that Super Bowl, but at the end of the season Hester finished as the second leading scorer on the roster.
Hester spent eight years with the Bears and was able to establish himself as the best to ever do it. Five kicks returned for touchdowns, 13 punts returned for touchdowns, ten NFL records, and over 20+ franchise records were all set during his time in Chicago. The “Windy City Flyer” was let go in 2014, and took his talents to Atlanta when most believed he would meet up again with his former coach Lovie Smith in Tampa.
His first year in Atlanta, Hester played in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Hester was used as a receiver and also a special teams ace just like he was in Chicago. Although Hester’s time in Atlanta was not as flashy as it was in the beginning of his career, he was still able to produce adequate numbers.
One of the flashes that Hester did have in Atlanta was that of a punt return for a touchdown in a game against none other than the Bucs. As the picture above shows, Hester torched the Bucs punt unit for a touchdown and made it look like he had not lost a bit of his edge.
After that season, the Falcons organization decided to oust the Mike Smith regime in order to hand the wheel to the young talented coach of Dan Quinn. Coach Quinn knew he was lucky to have phenom in Hester taking returns for him, but unfortunately Hester missed most of the season due to a toe injury.
After the season Hester was able to have much-needed surgery on his foot to repair what he had damaged, so he would be able to have a bounce back year in 2016. The Falcons must not have believed in Hester’s bounce back because they decided to let him go. The brass said it was not because of his injury but because of a “football decision.”
So where does Hester, who has no need for retirement, go now? According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs will be doing their research.
Hester has played in Coach Koetter’s system before, and Koetter was able to utilize him in his offense, so why not take advantage of this opportunity? If the Bucs are able to bring Hester down for a medical evaluation on his foot, they may be able to sign a player who would give them the X-factor in the return game we all have hoped for. Who can say no to a future hall of famer?
What do you say Buc Fans? Yay or nay?