As teams get ready for the NFL playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks decided to bring in return specialist Devin Hester. The team’s regular kick returner, Tyler Lockett, was placed on IR last week following a broken leg that needs offseason surgery.
Hester was waived by the Baltimore Ravens after less than a full season with the team. It wasn’t a great season, but early on, was blamed on lingering hamstring injuries and practice reps. The 34-year-old had five fumbles and only averaged 7.2 yards per punt return.
The team’s official website didn’t mince words when discussing the returner’s performance and related release. “The Ravens have waived veteran special teams returner Devin Hester Sr. after he made another mistake in Monday night’s 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots.”
The statement continued to explain how Hester could have made a fair catch instead of allowing a kick to roll to the 1-yard line, eventually resulting in a safety and two points for New England.
“It’s one of those instances where I’m reacting to one of my teammates being close to the ball,” Hester claimed defending the decision. “My first instinct was to clear everybody out of there. If it hit him, it could have been a turnover.”
In his 11th season in the league, it was unclear if his career in the NFL would be over after his short stint in Baltimore. Following a 2015 season, that saw Hester on the Atlanta Falcons’ sideline for most of the year with turf toe and a related surgery, was a year of inconsistencies with the Ravens.
The Seahawks weren’t going to miss out on a player who has been named to four Pro Bowls and been named first team All-Pro three times. He may not have felt comfortable in 2016, but his career includes NFL records for most return touchdowns of all time (20), most career punt return touchdowns (14), and is tied for the most return touchdowns in a single season (6).
The Seahawks will host the Detroit Lions Saturday night in the Wild Card round.