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March 06, 2014

Are the Panthers interested in Devin Hester?

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has never tried to hide his respect and admiration for Chicago return specialist Devin Hester, who told NFL Network on Wednesday he expects the Bears to release him.

Rivera, a former Bears assistant, watched Hester almost singlehandedly beat the Panthers in 2011 when he returned a Jason Baker punt 69 yards for a touchdown, and brought back a kickoff 73 yards to set up another touchdown.

With the 31-year-old Hester about to hit the open market, could the Panthers be among his suitors?

That depends on how the negotiations with Ted Ginn Jr. progress.

The Panthers view Ginn as one of their free agent priorities after he caught a career-high five touchdown passes in 2013 and gave the Panthers a big-play threat in their return games during his first year in Charlotte.

The 28-year-old Ginn is younger than Hester and a more accomplished receiver. Given the uncertainty of Steve Smith's future with the Panthers and the fact three receivers are eligible for free agency, Ginn's success as a receiver last season has to give him an edge on Hester.

Hester said he's interested in reuniting with former Bears coach Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, a scenario that would pit him against the Panthers twice a year.

But with Hester's resume -- his 19 career returns for touchdown are tied with Deion Sanders for the NFL record -- and Rivera's history with him in Chicago, the Panthers almost have to kick the tires on him.

If nothing else, it could provide leverage in their talks with Ginn.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 6, 2014 at 09:14 AM | Permalink


So what you're saying is that we should give up one guy who can't catch to another guy who catches even less?

Posted by: Panther Joe | Mar 6, 2014 10:07:59 AM

I would go with the cheaper of the two options (I expect that to be ginn) but I would definitely be worried about the bucs getting hester. i don't care how old he is.....kick off and punt returners like him ruin well played games in an instant.

if rivera had been doing his job in 2011, he never would have kicked to the guy.

didn't he turn around the next time and kick the ball out of bounds every kick off (40 yard line start for the opponent) or was that the same game? I can't keep up with all of rivera's coaching gaffs.

Posted by: charlottean | Mar 6, 2014 10:16:49 AM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Mar 6, 2014 11:13:47 AM

Charlotteass is at it again.....all mouth and full of crap.

Posted by: debo | Mar 6, 2014 11:17:19 AM

charlottean would prefer to have Foxxxxy and hurney doing what they always did...........

Posted by: tony clifton | Mar 6, 2014 11:29:34 AM

I <3 Charlottean. We bff's.

Posted by: Marty Hurney | Mar 6, 2014 11:35:35 AM

NOOOOOOO! Do not go after Hester, we need WR he would be a downgrade from Lafell because he cant play WR. If we are going cheaper free agent WR go after James Jones that Green Bay released, bringing in Hester would be the equivalence of bringing back Armanti Edwards so NO!

Posted by: Gene | Mar 6, 2014 12:18:14 PM

He will end up in Tampa with Lovie Smith.

Posted by: CLT11 | Mar 6, 2014 1:05:29 PM

I would rather keep ginn but still bring in hester but it will be a risk because he can come in as of smitty future but only if hester was younger then it would of berm smiity.hester. & ted ginn to bring in hester I would love it him in ted ginn can split the ball on KR's in PR's if all three on the field that will have team mind blown away.... in look to bring in kelvin Benjamin all 4 on the field!!! Watch out now (:

Posted by: panthers89 | Mar 6, 2014 1:42:00 PM

is everyone aware that Hester is so mentally challenged that he can't really learn plays to help an offense? hence he can't run routes and be a receiver even though he has mad skillz.

its pretty sad, but give him the ball on a punt and let him do his thing. he's made a lot of money doing that....

Posted by: tony clifton | Mar 6, 2014 2:57:06 PM

Joe, if the Bears have given up on Hester so should you.

Posted by: deepewide | Mar 6, 2014 3:30:46 PM

No- unless cheap.

Kickoffs are all but dead in the NFL- I can stand back there and take a knee 9 yards deep or watch it sail out of the back of the endzone -

So we're looking at a great punt returner and a mediocre WR? We have plenty of mediocre WRs.

Posted by: MTB | Mar 6, 2014 3:34:13 PM

No Hester!!! Keep Ginn!!! Let Hester go to Tampa Bay!!! Who cares!!!

Posted by: hltrapp | Mar 6, 2014 5:03:09 PM

cheap...still dont take hester...he cant run routes, cant catch, cant block, cant help defenses play of the #1 receiver..hence, hes terrible. he might as well be a defensive tackle because he'll never get reps there either. Ginn did great on PR's so thats all you need. and this one fool talking about hester and ginn on the field at the same time? lol.. thats called just taking a knee and punting!!

Posted by: prowler | Mar 7, 2014 1:21:35 AM

we love have Hester for the panthers a good man. Good returner list he can run the ball back.

Posted by: rob | Mar 7, 2014 12:49:17 PM

I hear whispers of E ...R ..I.C D..E..C..K..E..R.........

Posted by: David Herzberg | Mar 8, 2014 9:23:47 PM

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