INDIANAPOLIS – There are only so many seasons in a player’s career, and the four previous years in Oakland had
The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, Heyward-Bey played for multiple head coaches, offensive strategists and signal-callers.
He even played for multiple owners when Al Davis passed away in 2011.
After being cut by Oakland in March and entering the prime years of his career, Heyward-Bey sought stability. Courted by multiple teams over the past three weeks, something inside directed Heyward-Bey to Indianapolis.
“I just felt comfortable,” said Heyward-Bey. “My whole life I’ve followed my heart on decisions, and I’ve made tough decisions in my life before. In this case I kind of did the same thing.
“I took the information in front of me when it came to the Colts and other teams. At the end, I just had to follow my heart and I just felt comfortable there.”
Upheaval in Oakland was a constant presence and though Heyward-Bey thought his time was successful because of the professional strides he made, the turnover was a factor in what he sought in a second stop.
“I was there for four years and I had three coaches, four OC’s (offensive coordinators), seven starting quarterbacks,” said Heyward-Bey. “We had good times in Oakland. We went 8-8 at times and two years we went 4-12. I think my rookie year we won five games.”
How much instability under center has affected Heyward-Bey’s career is uncertain, but he never has had a full season with one starting quarterback.
In his rookie season, Heyward-Bey started nine games with JaMarcus Russell and two with Bruce Gradkowski. It was the third year of a difficult era for Oakland with Russell, and the Raiders were 2-7 in his nine starts. Gradkowski was in his first season with the Raiders and had only 12 previous career starts.
In Heyward-Bey’s second season, his starting quarterback was Jason Campbell for 11 games and Gradkowski for four outings. The club’s record with Heyward-Bey in the lineup was 8-7. It was Campbell’s first season in Oakland after arriving from Washington.
Carson Palmer arrived in Oakland during Heyward-Bey’s third season, and the pair started nine games together, winning four. Campbell and Kyle Boller opened in the other games in which he played. Palmer, who was 46-51 in seven seasons as a starter in Cincinnati was the most seasoned quarterback with whom Heyward-Bey had been around.
This past season, Heyward-Bey and Palmer opened 14 games together, going 4-10, while Terrelle Pryor was the starter in the other game in which Heyward-Bey opened.
Heyward-Bey will team with
A second-year quarterback is a security blanket for the fifth-year receiver. Heyward-Bey has been around enough to see other receivers have a constant presence under center.
He even saw Wes Welker this year transition from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning, ensuring a continuation of production. Heyward-Bey’s mind joined his heart.
“You have Andrew Luck, in my opinion the best young quarterback out there,” said Heyward-Bey.
“It’s a confidence thing. You know that this guy is going to be your quarterback. There’s no question about that.
“In Oakland, there were times when we weren’t sure going week-by-week and we had to adjust on the fly. Knowing that Andrew is going to be back there feels good.”