NFL free agent tracker: Darrius Heyward-Bey will visit Lions

USA TODAY Sports

Free agent wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is set to visit with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, according to a report.

Free agent wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is set to visit with the Detroit Lions, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Heyward-Bey's visit is scheduled for Wednesday.

Heyward-Bey visited with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, though there's no information as to how his visit went. Since being released by the Oakland Raiders due to cap constraints, Heyward-Bey hasn't been especially active in the free agent market, but he might just be the top receiver available.

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Though he under-performed for the first couple seasons of his career (his rookie campaign was especially poor, with just nine receptions off of 40 targets, for 124 yards and one touchdown), he seemed on the verge of breaking out after a 2011 campaign that saw him catch 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Raiders struggled with their offensive identity as a whole in 2012, and Heyward-Bey's production suffered, with 606 yards and five touchdowns over 15 games. The Raiders were in a very bad position with their salary cap and despite Heyward-Bey's promising potential as a deep threat, made the decision to let him go to save some money.

The Lions released wide receiver Titus Young after multiple off- and on-the-field problems and now lack a young, productive option across from Calvin Johnson. Johnson broke the NFL's record for receiving yardage in a single season last year, despite the Lions falling flat with just four wins.

With guys like Nate Burleson, Mike Thomas and Ryan Broyles all filling the slot receiver role, a guy like Heyward-Bey, who is primarily a deep threat (for good reason, with a 4.30 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL combine), could be a strong addition to an already strong offensive attack.

What's unclear with Heyward-Bey is what his asking price is and what teams will be willing to pay. He was taken with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, to the surprise of many. He received a five-year, $40.9 million rookie contract, which was partially responsible for the holdout of Michael Crabtree, who was taken a few picks later by the San Francisco 49ers.

Heyward-Bey was set to make $7.97 million in 2013, and his release saved the Raiders approximately $5.3 million in cap space. It's unlikely that he'll be able to command that kind of money from either the Lions or the Colts, but he does have a legitimate claim to being the top receiver left on the market, which helps his case.

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