Darrius Heyward-Bey narrowed his choices down to the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions and went with his heart.
Catching footballs from Andrew Luck also played a part.
“It's a confidence thing,” Heyward-Bey said on a conference call with reporters. “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 into a week and we had to adjust on the fly. Knowing that Andrew is going to be back there feels good.”
Detroit has a stable quarterback, too, in Matthew Stafford, but Heyward-Bey said he felt most comfortable with the Colts. He visited the Colts and Lions last week and signed a one-year deal with the Colts on Monday.
Heyward-Bey played four seasons with Oakland after being selected with the No.7 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
“If you just look at the (Colts) roster, you have Andrew Luck, in my opinion the best young quarterback out there,” Heyward-Bey said. “You've got a veteran in Reggie Wayne. You have a former teammate of mine in Samson (Satele) at center. They had some young guys make some plays out there, so just being a part of something like that, I think it can be great.”
Heyward-Bey's best season with the Raiders came in 2011 when he caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-2 former standout at the University of Maryland has 140 career receptions for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The fact the Colts signed him to a one-year deal means he has a lot to prove to show that he can thrive as a big-time NFL wide receiver. Most reviews of his career to this point have been mixed, as evidenced by his inability to obtain a longer-term contract. Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson likes signing free agents who have something to prove.
“I've always been hungry and motivated,” Heyward-Bey said. “One-year deal, 10-year deal, it doesn't matter. I just try and make plays out there on the field.”
The Colts return Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill from their receiving corps from last season. The team parted ways with Austin Collie and Donnie Avery left in free agency.
“My whole life I've followed my heart on decisions and I've made tough decisions in my life before,” Heyward-Bey said. “So, 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 things and, in the end, my heart told me to take it.”