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Devin Hester and Chicago Bears parting ways

Devin Hester announced on Wednesday that he won’t resign with the Chicago Bears. The Bears are parting ways with him.

Hester will be an unrestricted free agent after spending eight years with the Bears. Last season he had 18 touchdown returns, which ties him with Deion Sanders for most all time. He is the Bears all-time leader in total return touchdowns, punt return touchdowns, punt return yards, kickoff return yards (5,504), and total kick return yards (8,745). In all-purpose yards he ranks second with 11,632. Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18), according to ESPN.

"From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me," Hester told the NFL Network on Wednesday, the Associated Press notes. "All I can say is thanks to the fans for their support. They've always been great to me. Always been loyal. I couldn't have played for a better city than those guys. At the end of my career, I do want to retire as a member of the Bears."

Hester, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is best known for a return in the Super Bowl. In the 2007 Super Bowl he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Hester’s news comes on the same day that the Bears punter Adam Podlesh’s contract was terminated and they signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year deal. The Bears have signed 10 players who were due to become an unrestricted free agent, that’s the most of any team.

Hester has expressed interest in joining former Bears coach Lovie Smith in Tampa.

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