Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders Release Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2013

Following in the footsteps of many other NFL teams, the Oakland Raiders opened the 2013 free-agency period by making major slashes to payroll.

According to the Raiders' official Twitter feed, the team released wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, safety Michael Huff and defensive end David Tollefson on Tuesday:

As a franchise that was languishing on the edge of the salary cap heading into the league year's opening, Oakland's moves were likely financially motivated. Heyward-Bey and Huff alone combined for a cap number of a shade under $22 million, per Spotrac.

While that all won't be recouped—dead money from previous bonuses still lingers—the releases will go a long way toward giving the Raiders financial flexibility this offseason. For a team that finished 4-12 in 2012, the freedom supersedes what the three players can bring to the field. 

From a football perspective, Heyward-Bey is obviously the most critical loss. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft was seemingly on the cusp of reaching his potential in 2011. He finished that campaign with 64 receptions for 975 yards, combining his track-star-level speed with an increased route-running ability and sure-handedness.

However, the Maryland product’s 2012 season is mostly remembered for a scary concussion suffered in Week 3. After taking a vicious hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy, Heyward-Bey was motionless and had to be carted off the field. While he admitted to blacking out over the experience, he returned to the field after missing just one game. Unfortunately, he could not regain his excellent 2011 form.

Heyward-Bey finished the 2012 season with only 41 catches for 606 yards and five touchdowns, taking a back seat to Denarius Moore and tight end Brandon Myers on the pass-catching hierarchy. With a cap figure of $10.60 million for next season, it seemed preordained that Heyward-Bey would have to restructure his contract or face being released.

The latter scenario is now in place, so Heyward-Bey will have to prove he’s worth the risk for a new franchise. With plenty of receiver-needy teams on the market and him having just turned 26 years old in February, all signs point to him having a drove of suitors this spring. 

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices