Bears pursued Randle El in 2006

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
6:46
PM ET
[+] EnlargeRandle El
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireIf Antwaan Randle El joined the Bears as a free agent they likely would not have drafted Devin Hester in 2006.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Imagine for a second if the Bears had signed free agent and Riverdale, Ill. native Antwaan Randle El following the 2005 season.

Randle El, the only wide receiver to ever throw a touchdown in a Super Bowl (XL), was an established return man, an area the Bears needed to address following the retirement of Jerry Azumah.

Instead of signing Randle El, who went to Washington, the Bears selected Devin Hester in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.

The rest is history.

But would Devin Hester had become Devin Hester if Randle El returned home five years ago?

"He would have been Devin Hester somewhere else," Randle El laughed Wednesday at the Steelers Super Bowl media availability. "He's been awesome, you have to give the young man credit. He's played extremely well, even from going from the cornerback position to wide receiver. I think he still would have done it no matter where he went, because he had that ability to do it."

Randle El, now back for a second stint in Pittsburgh, cashed in with the Redskins to the tune of a seven-year, $31 million contract. The Bears had no interest in paying that amount of money, so Jerry Angelo took a pass and subsequently hit a home run with Hester.

Although Randle El had four productive seasons in Washington, the Bears clearly got the better end of the deal.

"It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day, it came down to numbers," Randle El. "They were quite a ways off in terms of the contract and stuff like that. I wanted to go home, it would have been great, but it was just too significant for me to even go that route."

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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