Ex-Raider Heyward-Bey out to show he’s no draft bust
Some $38 million and change later, can we agree Darrius Heyward-Bey is not a bust?
It’s an over-used term in the draft process, and incorrectly applied when it comes to one of the most controversial draft picks in the tenure of late Raiders’ owner Al Davis. HeywardBey is a reserve receiver and special teams player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who visit the Coliseum Sunday.
Heyward-Bey never became the game-breaking wide receiver Davis envisioned. Instead, he came to understand his limitations, maximizing both his career and income.
Leading up to the 2009 NFL draft, one of the Raiders’ many needs was wide receiver. During a pro day at Cal, I talked with 49ers then general manager Scot McCloughan about the top prospects.
McCloughan told me to keep an eye on HeywardBey.
Nearly a decade later, the only players among the 34 drafted receivers still drawing an NFL paycheck other than Heyward-Bey are Michael Crabtree (Ravens), Mike Wallace (a third-round pick on injured reserve with the Eagles) and Julian Edelman (an option quarterback and seventhround pick out of Kent State by New England).
In 2011, Heyward-Bey had his biggest season, with 64 receptions for 950 yards. He played one year under Dennis Allen, catching 41 passes, then left as a free agent – first to the Indianapolis Colts in 2013 and then to the Steelers.
Heyward-Bey is currently in the last year of a three-year deal worth $3.8 million, having caught 30 passes over the last four seasons (21 of those in 2015) and just a single reception this year.
This season, HeywardBey has more than twice as many special teams snaps as he does as a receiver, which is rare considering he doesn’t return kickoffs or punts.
“It’s an adjustment, but you take the strides, you understand this is where I am in my career,” Heyward-Bey told Steelers.com this past off-season. “This is who I am right not now, and I embrace it. A lot of people wake up in the morning, brush their teeth and lie to themselves. I try not to. I try to tell myself the truth so I can get better.”
According to spotrac.com, Heyward-Bey’s total earnings are $38.3 million, and he’s relied on his mother, a CPA, to make sure the money saved has been invested wisely.
At 31, DHB may or may not be at the end of the road. Heyward-Bey has the last laugh if he wants it, but the beauty is he’s never wanted to use it anyway.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey during a game Dec. 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Heyward-Bey was one of the most controversial draft picks during the tenure of late Raiders’ owner Al Davis.