Chicago Sun-Times

Camp: Hester's absence saves one man's job ... for now

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There is at least one person happy with Devin Hester's decision to no-show training camp on Wednesday, exceedingly happy.

That would the player who was going to go on the chopping block before the start of the first practice of the summer. When first-round draft pick Chris Williams signed his contract in the hours leading up to practice, it put the Bears at 81 players under contract, requiring them to release one to reach the league maximum of 80. That one player was spared as the team was able to place Hester on the reserve-did not report list.

It could save the player--it's unknown who was in jeopardy--too if there is an injury or two between now and when Hester returns. One guess is that the Bears would let go of a running back. They're flush with six after signing veteran Kevin Jones last week and that's one more than the team carried in training camp last summer. The other five: Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Garrett Wolfe Matt Lawrence and P.J. Pope.

It's interesting to take a look at the roster now vs. last year because of the hard limit on teams.

When the NFL did away with NFL Europa it prevented clubs from carrying extra bodies in camp. Teams would get training camp exemptions for roster spots as an incentive to ship players overseas for the spring league. The Bears took full advantage of it and have opened camps with close to 90 players before. Last year, they came to Bourbonnais with 84.

The most obvious difference is at kicker/punter. They had five to start last year as there were three punters. There are only three kicker punters this year with punter Zac Atterberry joining veteran punter Brad Maynard and kicker Robbie Gould. The other significant change is at safety. The Bears carried nine to start last year and have seven this time.

A look at the roster makeup this year and last:

Position 2007 2008

Quarterback 4-4
Running back 5-6
Fullback 3-3
Wide receiver 9-8
Tight end 4-5
Offensive linemen 13-13
KR/PR 1-1
Long snapper 1-1
Defensive linemen 12-13
Linebacker 10-9
Cornerback 8-8
Safety 9-7
K/P 5-3

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Just read mariotti's column on Hester's holdout, which follows columns on Urlacher, Grossman, and the many other Bears players and management that he detests. Jay seems like a funny and reasonable guy on 'around the horn', but his writing style lacks subtlety, nuance, and sophistication. It is easy to bash sports figures, and just as easy to second guess/take swipes at sports management, but those barbs do not necessarily provide readers with additional insight about either the business, or the effort in sport. Jay, if you want fans to appreciate your writing, please offer us something other than predictable diatribes against those you dislike--we know you don't like Angelo, so rather than bash his lack of business acumen, demonstrate how predecessors, or rivals handle situations that you believe he has fumbled. We know you think Rex Grossman couldn't quarterback a pop warner team, but enough is enough. After the 10th word play on his first name, I think we got the point...Maybe the majority of your readership enjoys your slicing and dicing, but increasingly I find myself moving on to another column after the first paragraph or two. Hope you don't mind the constructive criticism.

Hester HAD to hold out. What if he hurts himself before his new deal is signed? JA better get this resolved FAST! Do not cut P. J. Pope.

Angelo: PAY DEVIN HESTER..NOW!!!! Not only has he been the most productive offensive weapon this team has had since he's been in the league, and not only is he the most dangerous player in the NFL, but he could continue to progress into a full-time receiver and give whoever we line up behind center a guy who can break one every time he touches the ball, which will then make you look like a genius for not signing another QB.

Hester makes everyone around him better. He deserves the respect he's earned. I'm optimistic about the upcoming Bears season, but the longer Hester is not around, that optimism is growing dark.

I was thinking it was Pope on the chopping block or that Manning Jr would be gone for a future draft pick.

I can't agree that Angelo should "pay Hester now"! Has he earned a raised with his performance? YES!!

But, HE SIGNED A CONTRACT!! And, he should play out his Contract and then ask for more money; and, leave if he doesn't get it.



But they want "Long-Term" contracts, guaranteed if they get hurt; so PAY YOUR DUES FIRST!!!

Ron Amerson
Sun Prairie, WI


what you are forgetting is that these are soft contracts in the NFL. Just like if you sign a contract with your employer, you can quit or demand more money - so can they. The team can just as easily cut the player and the non-guarenteed money goes back into the budget and the player doesn't get paid. If your company NEEDED you and were getting paid as an intern but was working under the title of VP you would want more money too. Sure $400 G's sounds like a lot of money to be complaining about, but so does $50 to the right person. If the industry standard is more than that - he should get paid more than that. The players don't make these rules - the NFL does. If he was the key guy to the team (he was THE key guy last year) then you pay like he's the key guy.

I understand not giving Hester a pay day in the relm of Owens, Smith or Johnson, he has not earned it and has not shown he is a WR yet let alone a true number 1. But he has earned a bonus on his existing contract, a big bonus and the fact that Angelo has not rewarded the best player on the team for His efforts seems a little strange to me. Hester unlike many players currently with the Bears has been a top character guy as well as a top of the line player. He has done more for the Bears than they could have hoped for when they drafted him and yet they do not reward him. In fact they ignored him, he let it be known he wanted more money, his agent let Angelo know this was coming and yet Angelo ignored it and in his own words did not take Hester seriously.

Thats a pretty $h!ty thing to do to a guy who has been this good to your team. However he did reward guys like Lach and Briggs and was more than willing to give a guy like Benson every chance in the world. But Hester gets ignored. Yep thats the Bears GM for you.

Agree with the Mariotti critic above. Mariotti, the traffic, the weather and the hokey politics are all reasons Chicagoland is such a negative place. If you visit other parts of the country (besides Philly) you'll see most people are not so negative. Happy bashing, Jay! It's all you're good at. To everyone in Beardom, have a great, exciting, enjoyable season!

I love Hester, I think he would most certainly be worth a huge contract extension, but I must concur with the org on this one where they are confused on whether they should pay the man for the check of a returner or a receiver, because he was not truly tested on the level of a receiver. I then believe that they should pay him as a returner and not a receiver because he has not fully proven himself as a Moss, Welker, Burress, etc. Until he proves himself with those players, THEN start charging your team with high demands. Until then, shut up and go sulk in your closet!

The reason why Hester can demand to be paid like a WR is because the Bears lost Berrian and Muhammad during the off season and didn't bring in anyone who has a history of performing on their level. The Bears gave Hester all of the leverage by not bringing in top flight WRs, thereby indicating that they expect him to be their #1 WR. So, if he is clearly expected to perform like a #1 and he looks around camp and the Bears don't have any other options, then now is the perfect time for him to demand more money. I don't think he deserves Moss or T.O. money, but definitely should be paid like a #1 WR given the situation. If the Bears are worried that he will not perform like a #1, then they should have brought in a guy with a proven track record. Apparently the Bears have complete faith in Hester (at least that's what they are telling the fans), so pay him like you mean it!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 24, 2008 6:06 AM.

Theismann weighs in on Bears' issues was the previous entry in this blog.

Case of mistaken WR; Grice-Mullen in camp for tryout is the next entry in this blog.

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