The Washington Redskins‘ special teams embodies the term “many happy returns.” Unfortunately, that term mostly applied to the Redskins’ opponents in 2013. The Redskins surrendered four touchdowns via punt or kickoff return in 2013, the most allowed by any team. Returning punts and kickoffs provided additional ineptitude for the Redskins, as they finished 25th in the NFL in both categories while not recording a touchdown. It’s performances like this that get special teams coaches fired, and that’s exactly what happened when first year special teams coach Keith Burns was relieved of his coaching duties after the season.
In Burns’ defense, the kick returning duo of tight end Niles Paul and wide receiver Josh Morgan doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing special teams coaches. Neither does wide receiver Santana Moss, who once was a premier NFL punt returner. Not anymore, however, as Moss turns 35 in June, and most likely won’t be returning punts for the Redskins anymore.
None of that matters now. The Redskins need a spark on special teams. Free agent kick returner Devin Hester (above, No. 23) could be that spark. The Chicago Bears recently released Hester, apparently not wanting to pay him the approximate $3 million he could be seeking in 2014. That’s a lot of money to pay a specialist like Hester, who hasn’t proven capable of consistently producing in any other capacity other than returning kicks. Hester also turns 32 in November, and it would be hard to justify signing a kick return specialist like him for such a high price.
Despite Washington’s need to spend cautiously during free agency, Hester would be a great fit. The Redskins currently don’t have anyone that can provide efficiency in the kick return game. Cornerback Richard Crawford was supposed to provide that efficiency as a punt returner, but he suffered a season ending torn ACL injury before the 2013 season. If he fully recovers from that injury, it’s hard to determine how efficient he would be returning punts.
Hester set NFL records with 13 career punt returns for touchdowns, as well as returning 18 total kicks for touchdowns. In addition, Hester has also spent time at wide receiver. That won’t be necessary, with Washington signing wide receiver Andre Roberts to fill that role.
Hester is a more of a luxury than a priority for the Redskins, as shoring up their defense should be a top priority. Nevertheless, signing this great return specialist could bring excitement to the once again woebegone Redskins’ franchise.