Devin Hester says he won’t be back in Chicago

AP

Devin Hester expects to be playing for a new team in the fall.

After spending eight years playing for the Chicago Bears, Hester says he will not be back with the team next season.

“From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me,” Hester told the NFL Network,” via Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press. “All I can say is thanks to the fans for their support. They’ve always been great to me. Always been loyal. I couldn’t have played for a better city than those guys. At the end of my career, I do want to retire as a member of the Bears.”

Hester is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday. The Bears noted in their press release to announce the re-signing of defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff that they’ve re-signed 10 players that were set to be unrestricted free agents. Hester, notably, has not been one of them.

Hester has made the Pro Bowl three times during his tenure in Chicago and is tied with Deion Sanders for most return touchdowns in NFL history with 19.

Lovie Smith, Hester’s former head coach in Chicago with the Bears, is now head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hester expressed a hope that he could reunite with Smith with Tampa Bay as a potential landing spot.

“I look at Lovie as my number one coach right now because he’s the one that took a chance on me coming out of the draft,” Hester said. “He has all my respect so if he’s a guy that is going to shoot at me and want me to come play with him again, my arms are open.”