Devin Hester has topped multiple lists of likely cuts, and it is easy to see why. Hester turns 34 in November. He only played five games in 2016. He was relegated entirely to special teams. And his special teams was, at best, pedestrian. He underwent surgery and may miss time early in the offseason. And the team can save $3 million in cap space by getting rid of him, left with a very reasonable $833,000 in dead money.
Quite simply, the Hester experiment failed. While Koetter incorporated him in the offense (to decent results), Shanahan allowed Hester to play one offensive snap all year. Now limited to strictly special teams, Hester becomes a very expensive player for his position.
Hester checks all of the boxes for an expected release candidate: signed by an old coaching regime; in the age of expected decline; expensive base salary; easy cap savings; dealing with injuries; and an easy position to replace. In fact, Spotrac calls Hester's release as "very likely."
Who replaces Hester? His position can be filled by a wide receiver, a running back, a corner, or anyone with good hands and great speed. Potential replacements already on the roster are Tevin Coleman, Jalen Collins (it could give him something to do), Justin Hardy, Nick Williams, and even practice squad wide receiver R.J. Harris could get a shot.
While Atlanta could find a replacement in free agency, may teams get a solid impact with mid-round draft picks. If Atlanta takes a wide receiver early in the draft, as expected, that player could get a shot at replacing Hester.
Most any of these players could competently replace Hester, for less money, and provide Atlanta with an answer for the next few years. Cutting Hester should be an easy choice for the organization.