From Devin Hester’s mind to Deion Sanders’ lips ... or something like that.
Everyone knows the sensational return man has a close friend and confidant in Sanders, and his buddy did the talking for him appearing Tuesday on the NFL Network’s “Total Access.” Sanders was discussing the slate of games the league will televise, including the Week 15 meeting between New Orleans and Chicago Thursday, Dec. 11 at Soldier Field.
“Come on, the quarterback problems of the Chicago Bears are still there and then they gave away every receiver they had that was halfway decent,” Sanders said. “They’re looking for tremendous things from this guy, Devin Hester, but Devin Hester isn’t happy with his contract and he deserves to be paid amongst the league’s best.
“So I look at a myriad of problems for the Chicago Bears and they’ve got to address those issues now.”
There you have it. Add Hester to the expanding list of employees at 1000 Football Drive who are unhappy with their paycheck. Get in line.
The Bears have had only preliminary discussions with agent Eugene Parker, and with two years remaining on Hester’s rookie contract, this isn’t going to be an easy problem to solve. Hester desires to be paid among the league’s elite players and he bolsters his case with the fact that he’s scored more touchdowns the last two seasons than anyone else on the roster. He can point to games in which he directly impacted the outcome. Hester’s case is that he forces the opponent to adjust every time he steps on the field. If he makes strides as a receiver this season, his price will only go up.
Want a safe bet? Hester is aiming to get money in line with the $42 million, six-year contract Bernard Berrian received from the Minnesota Vikings. But he’d surely settle for fewer years. Parker has been setting up his clients with shorter contracts to get them back to the bargaining table sooner. He did just that in Arizona with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals were on the hook to Fitzgerald for more than $32 million over the next two seasons. Parker brokered a four-year deal worth $40 million that includes $30 million guaranteed. The beauty of it? It gets Fitzgerald back to free agency in four years when he is 28, ready to take another bite from the apple.
The Bears have $16 million in salary-cap room and would like to extend Hester and defensive tackle Tommie Harris. They’re nowhere near that goal right now. The good thing is we are five months until the season begins.