ESPN Insider first reported that the Atlanta Falcons have released 4-time Pro Bowl WR/KR Devin Hester.
The largest contributor to the move will have been that his cap number was simply way too high for a player who is effectively limited to returning punts. If the Falcons had kept him on the roster he would’ve cost them $3.8 million against the cap. Instead, they save $3 million of that and they effectively get an extra roster spot for a player who could be more versatile or, if nothing else, cheaper.
For Hester, it is hard to imagine that he’ll really get much more of a chance in the NFL. There are very few teams anymore that will employ a dedicated kick returner, often just playing a different skill position player there with no difference in production. What’s more, at 33 years old it is fair to assume the Falcons though he had lost a step and just wasn’t even the threat as a punt returner he always has been.
I honestly can’t think that a team will bring him in for anything more than the veteran minimum, especially if he won’t really be able to contribute much on offense. I think his best shot may come further into the season, when injuries have started to pile up and when teams have had a chance to see how there returners are actually performing.
Aside from anything else, when a 33 year receiver finds himself on the free agency market just as training camp just, it could mean that the writing is on the wall.
That does bring up an interesting question though, is he a Hall of Famer? I think an argument could certainly be made to say he is.