A new caption donned Hilton’s banner outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, ‘thanking him for the memories’—as ‘The Ghost’ continues to remain a free agent:
Since being selected by the Colts in the 3rd round out of the 2012 NFL Draft, Hilton caught 631 receptions for 9,691 receiving yards (15.4 ypr. avg.) and 53 touchdown receptions during 143 career games (121 starts)—all in Horseshoe blue.
Those receptions and receiving yards rank 3rd most all-time in Colts franchise history behind just Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne respectively. He’s definitely a future Colts Ring of Honor member once it becomes time.
Hilton was largely the Colts best wideout and a bona fide league-wide ‘WR1’ throughout his 10-year tenure in Indianapolis—as a 4x NFL Pro Bowler, forming a dynamic duo offensively with star (now retired) Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck.
He later became a veteran leader in the locker room and mentor for the Colts younger wideouts—even when he lost a half step, bridging the gap to other quarterbacks.
Age and injuries have caught up with Hilton in more recent seasons, but it still looks like he could still help an NFL contender in a more limited capacity—in the twilight of his playing career, if he elects to even continue it. After all, his son Eugene stars for local Zionsville in high school football—and Hilton may not want to move at this stage.
There’s been some school of thought that the Colts could use a veteran wideout to pair on the other side of Michael Pittman Jr. along the outside. Hilton was reported to be an option earlier this offseason—as general manager Chris Ballard didn’t rule out re-signing him then.
Other veteran options such as Julio Jones, who later signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and even free agent Odell Beckham Jr. were speculated as other alternatives.
Rookie Alec Pierce should eventually be a solid pro, but he looked raw in his career debut—and then took a nasty hit, placing him in the league’s concussion protocol. The Colts need another wideout besides Pittman Jr. to step up—and adding a proven pro may not hurt.
That being said, it appears that the ship may have finally sailed on Hilton returning given the franchise’s recent unprovoked fond farewell.
If this is truly the end, thanks for everything, #13!