Speculation That WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Is Jim Irsay's 'Wopper'

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

We are the Woodward and Bernstein of Indianapolis Colts free agency secrets.

Colts owner Jim Irsay enjoys trolling all of us on Twitter. It's his hobby... when he isn't dressing up like a coked-up Charles Lutwidge Dodgson character, doing guest appearances on Community, Parks and Recreation, or tweeting pictures of himself standing in his bathroom.

Two weeks ago, Irsay got on Twitter and told his followers that the Colts were in negotiations to acquire a wide receiver. He presented the potential move as a "wopper" that required Colts fans to do "voodoo" in order for the deal to go through. When asked at the March owners meeting if "wopper" was Giants restricted free agent Victor Cruz, Irsay said it wasn't. When asked if the move involved a trade, he said it did not. The "wopper" deal was for a veteran free agent wide receiver and, per Irsay's own tweets, the negotiation process had gone along for five days leading up to his first tweets on the subject.

With the news today regarding Raiders wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey visiting the Colts, some are speculating that DHB is indeed "wopper," including NFL.com Around The League editor Gregg Rosenthal. Local Indiana media say otherwise.

Please allow us to sort through the evidence and do our best to solve the mystery that is Jim Irsay's "Wopper."

The Case For Darrius Heyward-Bey Being 'Wopper'

  • Irsay said the deal was for a free agent. DHB is currently an unrestricted free agent (UFA).
  • DHB was released by the Raiders immediately before the start of the 2013 league year on March 12th. This made him a UFA before the start of the free agent negotiation period (March 9th-12th). On March 17th, Irsay tweeted that the deal they were negotiating with 'wopper' was going on 5 days.
  • Of all the UFA options out there, DHB is one of the best available.

The Case Against Darrius Heyward-Bey Being "Wopper"

  • Three days after announcing the Colts intentions to make a deal for a wide receiver, Irsay told the Indianapolis Star that "the team was close to signing a veteran free agent — not arranging a trade for a player under contract — but the negotiations hit a snag." This doesn't necessarily suggest that the negotiations were with a UFA. A restricted free agent (like, say, Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders) would realistically require 5 days worth of negotiations. Not only would the Colts and the restricted free agent need to work out a new contract, but there is draft pick compensation to consider. If the Colts were to present an offer sheet to a RFA like Sanders, they'd also have to send their third round pick in 2013 to Pittsburgh as well. As of this writing, Sanders has not signed his RFA tender.
  • It seems incredibly unlikely that a draft bust like DHB, who couldn't even get a contract offer from the Jets, would require nearly a week's worth of negotiations. If he signs with the Colts soon, it's likely for a one-year deal.
  • Reporters like George Bremer are saying that "wopper" was offered a deal sometime between March 12th and March 20th. Heyward-Bey's visit today suggests that this is the first time both sides are talking.
  • When negotiations for "wopper" were reportedly still ongoing back on March 18th, per Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, Mike Florio of PFT reported that DHB was NOT drawing interest from the Colts.

If you care for my take, it seems to me that Heyward-Bey is NOT "wopper," and that the Colts are now interested in signing him because the "wopper" deal has fallen through. It's also possible that Indy is using the Heyward-Bey visit to leverage "wopper" into lowering his asking price.

If DHB signs with Indy today or tomorrow, it would seem to indicate that the "wopper" deal is truly dead. Stay tuned.

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