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Oakland Raiders Need to Part Ways with Overpaid Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey

No. 7 Overall Pick in 2009 Hasn't Lived Up to the Money He's Made

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COMMENTARY | The Oakland Raiders have always been known for going at the opposition's jugular by airing the ball down field.

Wide receivers like Cliff Branch, Tim Brown, Art Powell and Fred Biletnikoff are just a few of the players who have donned the silver and black in their great careers.

While Al Davis remained adamant on scoring touchdowns while everyone else settled for first downs, he ran the Raiders into the ground financially as he reached the last years of his life.

Darrius Heyward-Bey is a prime example of Davis' love for speed, as well as his love for writing blank checks to unproven players.

The Raiders questionably drafted Heyward-Bey with the seventh-overall pick in 2009, passing over both Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin to get the speedster from Maryland.

Though Heyward-Bey has shown signs of greatness at times, he remains unproven and inconsistent in terms of production and hasn't come close to earning the amount of money the Raiders are paying him.

Heyward-Bey is expected to have a cap hit of $10.6 million in 2013 and made more money last season than other notable receivers like Greg Jennings, Julio Jones, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith.

Not a bad payday for a guy who only had 606 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.

Heyward-Bey is worth nowhere near the ridiculous amount of money he's getting paid, and he's just another example of Davis' admiration of speedy receivers who can run their way into the end zone.

The problem with that is you have to catch the ball first, something Heyward-Bey has struggled with since coming into the NFL.

After putting together a nice season in 2011 by finishing with 975 yards and four touchdowns, he regressed in 2012 by dropping easy passes while failing to adapt to offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's new system.

Although Knapp turned out to be a complete failure in Oakland (again) and can be attributed to Heyward-Bey's struggles, the front office has to ask itself if it's worth it to pay a guy $10 million who, before 2011, combined for just 490 yards receiving during his first two years in the league.

Oakland already has a deep threat in Denarius Moore who is only scheduled to make $602,000 next season, and the team saw potential from the undrafted Rod Streater, who finished 2012 with the same amount of production as Heyward-Bey, while making $8 million less.

Oakland also found Carson Palmer a legitimate target in tight end Brandon Myers, and re-signing him needs to be one of general manager Reggie McKenzie's top priorities this offseason.

Since the Raiders are already over the cap, Heyward-Bey, as well as the rest of the the dead weight on Oakland's roster must be trimmed.

If Heyward-Bey wants to remain in silver and black, he must restructure his contract. No other team is going to pay him that kind of money, and no other team should.

Oakland is in rebuilding mode, and will be for the next couple of years as McKenzie attempts to free the team of the ugly mess left behind by Davis.

Paying a mediocre receiver $10 million is not part of that rebuilding process.

Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka

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