Darrius Heyward-Bey has had a negative connotation around his name since the day he entered the NFL through no fault of his own. The Raiders made a ridiculous reach taking him seventh overall, falling in love with his measurables, including a 6'2" frame and a 4.30 time in the 40 yard dash. Heyward-Bey entered the league painfully raw and was never going to make an immediate impact. This rawness made him difficult to project.
Four years into his career, Heyward-Bey has not become a star, but he has developed into a competent NFL wideout. His cap hit of over $7 million will probably be too much for a Raiders team in less than stellar financial shape so he is a likely cap casualty.
What could make him attractive to the Jets is the fact his best year came in 2011 when Sanjay Lal was Oakland's wide receivers coach. Lal currently holds the same position for the Jets. During that year, DHB put up a career year with 64 catches for 975 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the eleventh most productive receiver in the league that year in terms of yards gained per pass route run.
Heyward-Bey has blazing speed. He is capable of making spectacular plays. His problem has consistency. His route running, tracking balls, and concentration have all been spotty during his career. Under Lal, he seemed to be putting it together. Once Lal left Oakland, DHB regressed. Even so, his 41 catch, 606 yard, 5 touchdown season probably would have made him the best receiver the Jets had.
Get used to free agency this year. The only players the Jets are going to be able to afford are going to have some serious warts. The best guys available will be cheap young players with great athletic ability. The hope will be the coaches can mold them into productive players. Heyward-Bey is probably worth a look given the fact the guy who would be coaching him seemed to be doing that in Oakland. The 25 year old receiver seems unlikely to command much of a contract. Given his potential, it could be worth a shot. In theory, he could make a nice compliment across from Santonio Holmes and allow the Jets to bring Stephen Hill along more slowly. Everybody in Oakland seems to rave about his attitude and work ethic.
I think DHB might be a guy the Jets should consider. Do you?