The 34-year-old Hester is considered one of the top returners in NFL history and holds the league record of 19 return scores. He has returned 14 punts for touchdowns and five kickoffs for scores.
But his last appearance for the Ravens included two costly decision-making mistakes. He failed to catch two punts that forced Baltimore to start drives on its 1-yard line and 2-yard line. The Patriots turned his first miscue into a safety.
Hester averaged 24.5 yards on kickoff returns this season and 7.2 on punt returns. He fumbled four punts and one kickoff, another factor in his release.
The Ravens are promoting Michael Campanaro from the practice squad to be their new returner.
Hester broke into the NFL in 2006 with the Chicago Bears and posted an astonishing 11 return touchdowns (seven punts, four kickoffs) over this first two seasons. He had 13 punt return scores and five kickoffs in eight seasons with the Bears.
He spent the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and returned one punt for a touchdown. The Ravens signed him just prior to the 2016 season opener after the Falcons released him.