If it wasn’t for Chicago Bears’ wide receiver/return specialist Devin Hester talking to fellow kick returner from the Buffalo Bills, Roscoe Parrish, then he may not have realized the value set for kick returners in the NFL this season. They discussed, among other things, the recent contract extension that Parrish signed.
Parrish, a third-year player with the Bills, was due to make $435,000 this season and $520,000 next season as part of his original four-year deal. But Parrish signed a new deal; he is signed through 2011 and his base salary for the final 3 years of the extension is $1 million+ each season. Hester, on the other hand, makes $360,000 this season and has 2 years and $975,000 left on his contract.
Granted, Parrish is not chopped liver because of all he does for the Bills, but on a statistical basis, Hester has set the “standard”; he has returned 3 punts and 2 kickoffs for touchdowns this season and in his short career has 12 returns for scores – including the Super Bowl. I have no idea what the Bears’ cap space looks like, but there’s no reason not to grant Hester a contract similar to or greater than Parrish’s. If the Bears, according to head coach Lovie Smith, want Hester around forever, then they should pay him accordingly.