Just connected with Colts WR T.Y.Hilton, an impending UFA. "I'm 100% focused on my 1st free agency..bc I get to make that decision." On if he wants to return to Indy, Hilton told me, "gotta work both ways." On if he feels the #Colts want him back, he added, "yea I think they do."— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 8, 2021
Hilton finished this past year with 56 receptions for 762 receiving yards (13.6 ypr. avg.) and 5 touchdown receptions during 15 starts—having caught fire down the season’s final stretch for the Colts.
Now 31 years old, Hilton may not be the bonafide #1 wideout he was a few years ago for Indianapolis, but he can still be a productive speedy veteran weapon for the Colts—as he transitions from a Pro Bowl caliber star to more of a complementary piece.
For what it’s worth, team owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard have publicly stated that the franchise wants Hilton back—but both have cautioned, that Hilton’s market will determine the price, which will ultimately dictate whether the beloved veteran returns:
“We’ll work through it, but we like T.Y.,” said Ballard this past Friday on 107.5 The Fan’s ‘The Dan Dakich Show’. “We think he can still play. We think he can still play a significant role. I think the last (few games), it was really fun to watch.”
“Let me tell you what’s really cool about T.Y. When I first came in here, to see his growth and maturity, has been really, really cool.”
“I mean when you’re used to catching 1,400 yards worth of balls to all of the sudden go to six, seven, eight hundred (yards), that’s a little bit of a hit to the ego. And never once, he never once bitched, complained. No, here’s my role. This is what I am going to do. How do I help the team win. So we like T.Y. A lot of it will depend on the market because we have a lot of things (to take care of), we’ve got some work to do. I mean we have some work to do, but, ‘Would we like him back?’ Yes.”
On Hilton’s end, it sounds like he’s going to take the time to enjoy the freedom of his first actual free agency—and test the market to see what else may be out there. The Colts’ imminent decision at starting quarterback could also potentially heavily influence Hilton’s future, as he’d be better off with a starting quarterback who likes to push the ball downfield—remaining one of the league’s better deep threats.
In Colts’ all-time franchise history, Hilton ranks 3rd in receiving yards (9,360), 4th in receptions (608), and 4th (tied) in receiving touchdowns (50) in career numbers—as he’s one of the best wideouts ever in horseshoe lore.
It sounds like the Colts genuinely want Hilton back, but Ballard has a determined value in mind, and if Hilton exceeds that number on the open market elsewhere, there could be a mutual parting of ways here shortly. That’s just the cold business side of it, even if Hilton is a sentimental franchise favorite—with some productive football still left in the tank.
However, don’t count him out of Indianapolis’ future quite yet—as there could still be a ‘meeting of the minds’ to keep him here for the remainder of Hilton’s great career.