(CBS) — In an appearance on the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access on Wednesday night, Devin Hester said that he won’t be returning kicks for the Chicago Bears next season. He will hit free agency next Tuesday, and the Bears have no intention of re-signing him.
“From my knowledge, I know Chicago wants to go a different route with me,” Hester said.
Hester also indicated he would like to retire as a Bear.
Hester, 31, has played with the Bears since being picked in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft and has made the Pro Bowl three times. He is tied for first in NFL history with Deion Sanders for return touchdowns with 19. He’s the NFL record holder for kick/punt return touchdowns with 18, and he holds a slew of Bears franchise records.
Hester posted on his Facebook page Wednesday night, thanking Bears fans for their support.
“To all my Chicago people…I can’t thank you all enough for my time in Chicago,” he wrote. “I’ve always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart and if I am fortunate enough to break the return record, we will have all broken it together…no matter where I am. Thank you again and God Bless.”
On Thursday morning, the Bears officially announced they wouldn’t be re-signing Hester, then thanked him for his accomplishments in eight seasons.
“For the past eight seasons we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization,” Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said. “While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.
“Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband and father. Devin represented the organization off-the-field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish him and his family all the best.”