When his playing career comes to an end, Devin Hester would like to retire as a Chicago Bear. The Bears, though, have seemingly already retired any plans they might have had for Hester going forward.

Hester said as much during an interview on the NFL Network on Wednesday night, when he also hinted strongly that joining the Buccaneers might be at the top of his list of options once the free agent marketplace opens on Tuesday.

“(Bucs coach) Lovie (Smith) is my number one coach right now because he’s the one who took a chance on me coming out in the draft,’’ Hester said. “He has all my respect, so if he . . . (asks) me to come play wit him again, my arms are open.’’

Smith has made no secret of his desire to field strong special teams units and the need for a dynamic return specialist. Even at 31 years of age, Hester would seem to fill the need for the latter.

He is coming off a season in which he returned 52 kickoffs for a league-leading 1,436 yards as well as 18 punts for 256 yards and a touchdown that was the 19th return for a touchdown of his career.