Devin Hester sees Buccaneers as an option
“(Buccaneers coach) Lovie (Smith) is my number one coach right now because he's the one who took a chance on me coming out in the draft,'' Hester said Wednesday on the NFL Network. “He has all my respect, so if he . . . (asks) me to come play with him again, my arms are open.''
The 31-year-old Hester played for Smith during seven of his eight career seasons in Chicago.
Smith has made no secret of his intentions to build the bases for a strong special teams unit in Tampa with a dynamic returner in the mix. Hester could serve in that role and will be seen as an upgrade over Eric Page, who was the Buccaneers’ primary returner on kicks and punts last season. Although the Buccaneers had a better return average than most of the NFL teams, individually speaking Hester had a better averages than Page on punts (14.2 to 10.9) and kickoffs (27.6 yards to 24.9).
The Buccaneer’s longest return last season was 52 yards. Meanwhile, Hester is coming off one of his best season in which he went 80 yards on a kickoff and had an 81 yard punt returned for a touchdown. Hester also returned 52 kickoffs for a league-leading 1,436 yards as well as 18 punts for 256 yards and a touchdown, which helped him tie NFL record for career kick returned for touchdowns (19) with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. He also holds the NFL record for career punt returns for touchdowns (13).
Although Smith did not serve time under one of the receiver spots last season, he did gain extensive experience at the position during the Smith era in Chicago. While he could offer the Buccaneers increase depth at the position, it should also be note Hester’s recent experience at receiver comes down to only two touchdown catches over the past three seasons.
The Buccaneers or Smith have to this point not publically expressed interest in the former University of Miami product.