The Chicago Bears signed Devin Hester to a four-year contract extension Sunday that creatively accounts for his transition from kick returner to a full-time wide receiver.
The four-year deal is worth at least $30 million, of which $15 million is guaranteed. But according to a source, it also includes a $10 million roster bonus in the final year if Hester reaches performance levels of a No. 1 receiver over the course of the contract. The bonus “de-escalates” to account for performance below the level of a No. 1 receiver.
The maneuver is similar to the one Chicago gave defensive tackle Tommie Harris in June. Harris has a de-escalator clause that requires him to make the Pro Bowl in three consecutive years, among other requirements, in order to reach the maximum level of bonus money in the deal.
The team announced the deal Sunday. Hester skipped the first two days of training camp because he wanted to renegotiate his contract, which had two years left. Hester returned to camp Friday, saying there was progress in the negotiations.
He said he skipped practices to make a statement that he was serious about a new deal.
Hester’s previous contract was for $445,000 for the 2008 season.