Devin Hester said, "I know some of the plays I should have made in terms of catching the ball. But I just wasn't feeling it. My mind wasn't there the majority of the time." This is from a guy getting paid close to $2 million dollars a year. After moaning about not being given the opportunity to play wide receiver. It's time to drop this fool who I admit was one of the greatest return men of all time. He has not had a return for a TD in two years. He was never a receiver, never a corner. He was a return man, end of story. How many games has he cost us because his head wasn't in it? How long must we deal with this unprofessional attitude? -- Steven Sivak, Grand Junction, Mich.
Assuming Hester stays with the team, fans might have a hard time forgiving him for his comments -- until his next touchdown return. I thought Hester's comments were silly. He is the type of player who needs to feel secure and comfortable. Hester probably is feeling a little isolated now that the general manager, head coach and wide receivers coach who brought him into the league no longer are in Chicago. He also is entering the last year of his contract. Maybe he would like for the new Bears regime to show their love for him in the form of a contract extension. I still think there is an above average chance Hester is on the team next year. The reason is he gives the Bears something as a return man that would be very difficult to replace. My advice to you Steven would be not to get too caught up in what players say. All that matters is whether or not they perform.
I believe it would be. Hester is 30 years old, and it apparently has been established that he strictly is a return man moving forward. A third round pick is probably asking too much for an aging specialist. Dante Hall, "The Human Joystick," was the Devin Hester of his day. In 2007, the Chiefs traded a 29-year old Hall to the Rams along with a third round pick (84th overall) in return for a fifth round pick and a third round pick (82nd overall).-- A fifth round pick might be the most likely compensation for Hester. That's why it probably doesn't make sense to trade him. He's worth more to the Bears than a fifth round pick would be.
Dan, I'm wondering why the Bears are being so quiet about Brian Urlacher's future. Athletes and sportswriters often cite the difference between a player who goes into an offseason injured and has to rehab, and going in healthy and able to prepare for the coming season. Last year, Urlacher had no offseason other than trying to get healthy. Assuming his hamstring has healed, that's not the case this year. His play improved as the season went on, and it looks like they'll run basically the same defense. I get that it's time to bring in his eventual successor, but with him offering a hometown discount, why haven't they at least given an indication that they want him back? -- Mark Early, Arlington, Va.
I don't mean to imply that I have inside information on this, because I don't. But maybe the Bears have not given an indication they want Urlacher back because they don't want him back, or because they haven't decided if they want him back. Clearly it is not a slam dunk he will be asked to come back. If there was no doubt about it, the Bears would have been saying all along that they want him back, as the Ravens have with Joe Flacco, for instance. Part of the decision might be based on what the new coaching staff thinks of Urlacher.
No doubt Brian Urlacher is likely worth more to Bears than other teams, and the Bears may even be willing to overpay a bit based on prior body of work and worth. But if Urlacher were to test free agency, what do you see him being offered, if anything? I'm just not seeing anyone else offering big guaranteed money for him at this point. Do you? Seems like the Bears may need to encourage him to do so, so then their offer seems more than fair in comparison. -- Ron S, Sammamish, Wash.
Urlacher averaged $8.1 million per year in his last Bears contract. The days of him making that kind of coin are over. Even Urlacher has been realistic about it in his public comments. Players his age just aren't paid the same way players who are 10 years younger are paid. I could be wrong, but I don't think money is going to be an issue between the Bears and Urlacher. My guess is if they decide they want him back, they will be able to come to an agreement. But if they can't come to an agreement, a scenario is possible in which Urlacher tests the market and comes back with reduced expectations.
With The Ravens' salary cap woes and the possibility of free agent linebacker Paul Kruger hitting the open market, how would he look in a Bears uniform no matter playing in a 3-4 or a 4-3? Is it in the realm of possibilities or a pipe dream? -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
I think it's a pipe dream Chuck. The Bears already have a lot of money tied up in their defensive line, and they likely will have a lot more tied up on the line after they get Henry Melton under contract. They have two young defensive ends they want to play as much as possible in Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin. Kruger is a fine player, but the Bears don't need him badly enough to give him the type of big money deal he will command, assuming he hits the open market.
What do you think the Bears should do this offseason to solidify the TE position? I think that trying to sign Martellus Bennett would be a good idea. He's a good blocker and he had a nice season as a receiver. I also wouldn't mind Dustin Keller or Brandon Myers. -- Keith M., Brick, N.J.
Bennett is intriguing. He has speed, hands and size -- everything it takes to be one of the better tight ends in the league. But he is seen as somewhat inconsistent and an underachiever. He had a breakout season in 2012 with 55 catches for 626 yards. Prior to last season, he was perceived as a very similar player to Kellen Davis. In fact, the Cowboys tried to replace Bennett with Davis, but Davis opted to re-sign with the Bears. Bennett will probably get top dollar. There is a chance he could really blossom with his third team and end up being a fantastic signing. But there also is a chance he could be a bust. There is a definite risk in investing in him. As for Keller, we're not sure what kind of tight end Marc Trestman is going to be looking for, but if he wants one who can block, Keller isn't going to be for him. Keller could give the passing game some juice though. Keller might be more of a bargain coming off a season in which hamstring and ankle problems limited him to eight games and five starts. Myers is very interesting. He had a career year in 2012 with 79 catches for 806 yards for the Raiders. He might not have the kind of top end ability the other two players have, but the former Iowa Hawkeye has the production.
Do you think the Bears could draft Tyler Eifert with their first-round pick and then Zach Ertz with their second round pick, similar to what the Patriots did with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? Our offensive coordinator is used to having a big tight end in Jimmy Graham, so is it a possibility, assuming both are still on the board? -- Nick Yam, Wheaton
I don't see that as possible, Nick. The Bears have too many needs and not enough draft picks to load up on one position. If they do that, they will come out of the first three rounds with nothing to show for their offensive line or their aging defense, because they don't have a third round pick. I also don't believe Ertz still will be on the board when the Bears choose in the second round.
Do you think that Terrell Owens would consider switching positions to tight end? I believe that would be his only shot to get a spot on an NFL squad if he even wants back in. He is good size and I think he would make a good tight end. His days as a top reciever are long gone and I feel he would be a cheap option for the Bears' tight end issues. -- Terry Wilson
If Terrell Owens is playing tight end, I would like to play defensive end and pass rush against him. Not happening, Terry.
I heard that under the new CBA, players that are on the PUP list for an entire year do not lose that year from their contract, meaning they add another year to their original contract. Is this true? Do we still have Johnny Knox under contract? -- Eric Weil, Downers Grove
When a player is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list for an entire season, his contract rolls over to the following year. So Knox still is under contract with the Bears.
Based on his press conference comments, it sounds like Coach Trestman and Jay Cutler will have a lot of film to review and deconstruct. Does the CBA prevent Jay and Marc from getting together in the offseason, or does that only apply to OTAs and more physically oriented training camps? How much can they work together -- as much as each of them want? -- Johnny Bollow, Pasadena, Calif.
Trestman and Cutler will not be permitted to get together to review tape and playbooks until OTAs begin sometime in April. Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement reads, in part, "Prior to the commencement of the Club's official offseason workout program
players are not permitted to participate in Club-supervised workouts, Club-supervised practices, group or individual meetings with coaches, group or individual film study with coaches, or group or individual playbook study with coaches."
I am a huge Rams fan and I read your articles all the time. I also listen to you on the radio from time to time ... so I really respect your opinion and outlook on all things NFL. As you know, The Rams were the only team that put in a bid for Titus Young and got him. Do you think this guy can play at a high enough level to be a No. 1 and not just on the Rams? Is it a move that can rip the team apart? I have read some bad things about this guy, and I was wondering if you would go this route, and if you think the guy is worth the risk? -- Doug Dvorak
There is no question Young has the ability to be a fine, fine NFL wide receiver. But we'll never see it unless he grows up in a hurry. He didn't get along with teammates, or follow coaches' orders in Detroit. He was not respected in the locker room. His work ethic was questioned. It's worth taking a shot on a player like Young. But I don't think the Rams can count on him, and his presence should not preclude them from making a major investment at the wide receiver position.