T.Y. Hilton

New Deal Between Colts, T.Y. Hilton Unlikely?

The Colts’ offense is expected to take a step forward in 2022, but the team’s pass-catching corps is relatively lacking in experience. Throughout the offseason, the possibility of another deal being struck which would keep T.Y. Hilton in the fold has remained, though such a move now appears unlikely. 

During a press conference earlier this week, general manager Chris Ballard said, “Do I think T.Y. can still play? Absolutely. But right now, I like where we’re at” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Stephen Holder). That echoes the sentiment expressed by owner Jim Irsay back in May on the subject of re-signing the 32-year-old.

Hilton was reported at that time to have received interest from other teams, but a reunion with the Colts has remained the most logical move for the veteran. Indianapolis has Michael Pittman Jr. in line to once again operate as their No. 1 wideout, after he topped 1,000 yards in his second NFL season. The team also added Alec Pierce in the second round of this year’s draft, and Parris Campbell, who has struggled to remain healthy, projects as the final member of their starting trio.

The Colts could still find themselves in need of a field-stretching wideout, though. Hilton has certainly been that throughout his career, and now sits third on the franchise’s all-time receiving list. He had by far the least productive campaign of his 10-year tenure in 2021, however, with just 23 receptions and 331 yards. Barring injury, a rotational role would be likely – something which would represent a stark change for a player with 121 starts to his name.

With just over $6MM in cap space, the Colts could afford a modest deal for Hilton, though it would of course need to be smaller than the $8MM pact he played on last season. Absent an offer from Indianapolis or elsewhere, retirement may once again be on the table, as it was following the 2021 campaign.

Packers Pursued Julio Jones; Colts Did Not Show Interest

Julio Jones‘ Buccaneers agreement — a one-year, $6MM deal — became official Wednesday morning. The future Hall of Fame wide receiver joined a team that already carried one of the NFL’s best receiving groups, but he was linked to teams with question marks at the position.

The Packers were another team to pursue Jones, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). While other teams are believed to be involved here, Tampa Bay and Green Bay represent Jones’ known suitors. The Colts were not involved, with GM Chris Ballard indicating the team was not planning to add the former Falcons and Titans target (Twitter link via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson).

Green Bay represented one of Odell Beckham Jr.‘s most prominent pursuers last year, and the Jones situation unfolded similarly. After Beckham joined the Rams, Jones is set up to help another Packers NFC rival. The Pack offered Beckham the veteran minimum; the Rams came in with a better proposal to snare the talented wideout last November. It appears likely the Packers’ Jones offer came in south of the Bucs’, sending the All-Decade pass catcher to a team flush with receiver options.

The Packers are attempting to regroup at wideout, having lost their top two options from recent years — Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They did add Sammy Watkins in free agency and North Dakota State’s Christian Watson in Round 2, before also drafting Nevada’s Romeo Doubs in Round 4. But the team’s receiving corps is light on dependable players and noticeably lacks a No. 1-type option — barring Watson breaking out quickly. Green Bay has been linked to OBJ again this offseason, but Los Angeles has shown far more consistent interest.

Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb represent the Packers’ top holdover options, with the former having an opportunity to make a major climb in Aaron Rodgers‘ aerial hierarchy ahead of a potential 2023 free agency bid. Beyond Beckham, veterans like Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, Cole Beasley and Will Fuller remain unsigned. But Jones moves a key piece off the board.

Linked consistently to the Colts this offseason, Hilton remains on the team’s radar. Ballard confirmed the team has not ruled out a reunion with the third-leading receiver in team history (Twitter link via Erickson). The Colts lost Zach Pascal to the Eagles in free agency and are counting on second-round rookie Alec Pierce to be a key auxiliary piece in their Michael Pittman Jr.-fronted receiving cadre. Beyond Pittman, the Colts are thin on known commodities at the receiver position. Parris Campbell remains in the team’s plans, but injuries have defined his career through three years. Second-year player Mike Strachan underwent knee surgery this summer, per The Athletic’s Zak Keefer, who adds (via Twitter) the 2021 seventh-round pick may be sidelined until the final days of training camp.

WR Notes: Hilton, Watkins, Lamb, Tolbert

The Colts have made a number of noteworthy additions on both sides of the ball this offseason, once again leading to optimism that they will field one of the AFC’s most talented and balanced rosters. However, the wide receiver position remains one surrounded by question marks, as it has for several seasons.

Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis lacks proven pass-catchers. The addition of second-rounder Alec Pierce in particular represents cause for optimism that the unit will have more upside with Matt Ryan at the helm, but a veteran addition could still be in the cards. Especially if the likes of Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin are unable to stay on the field and produce as effective complimentary wideouts at a minimum, an experienced option could be required.

If the team were to make a move, they would “likely” turn to T.Y. Hilton, as noted by Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required). The 32-year-old has always been the most logical candidate to sign with the Colts, given his long history with the franchise. The door has remained open to a second straight one-year reunion between the two sides, but other receiver-needy teams could also consider him in the weeks leading up to the regular season.

Here are a couple of other WR notes from around the league:

  • Much has been made this offseason about how the Packers have re-worked their receiver room. The addition of three rookies during the draft (Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure) could create a bit of a logjam at the position for veterans lower down the depth chart. That could leave Sammy Watkins on the roster bubble, as noted by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. The 29-year-old signed a one-year deal with Green Bay looking to fill the void left by Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but, especially if the team opts to sign another wideout, he could find himself back on the open market shortly before the season begins.
  • Another team which traded away a notable wideout this spring was the Cowboys. The absence of Amari Cooper will vault CeeDee Lamb to the role of undisputed No. 1, which could affect his special teams responsibilities. Per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Lamb (who has led the team in punt returns in each of his first two seasons in the NFL) could cede those duties to another wideout. Cedrick Wilson handled the second-most punts last year, but his free agent departure leaves the top spot open to competition. So far, third round rookie Jalen Tolbert has seen the most action as a return man in practice, and could be the favorite to win the job full-time. Head coach Mike McCarthy said “he seems pretty natural back there,” so it will be worth watching come training camp to see if he can permanently win the spot.

Ravens A Viable Destination For Free Agent WRs?

Historically known as a franchise left out of contention for free agent wide receivers to join, the Ravens may find themselves in unfamiliar territory. According to PFF’s Doug Kyed, Baltimore was labelled by a source as “an attractive landing spot” for veterans still on the open market. 

The Ravens have seen a number of changes to their WR room this offseason. Departures at the position include Miles Boykin being claimed off waivers by the Steelers, and Sammy Watkins signing with the Packers after his one-year stint in Baltimore. The most impactful loss, of course, was that of Marquise Brown, whose trade request was honored during the draft when he was dealt to the Cardinals.

Those moves left the team thin on the depth chart, and with very little experience at the position. 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman is slated to become the No. 1 wideout in Brown’s absence, and will look to build off of an injury-shortened rookie campaign in which he flashed potential. The rest of the position group is led by Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace – a trio which has combined to make 72 catches in the NFL.

That left many expecting the Ravens to select at least one wideout during the draft; while the team did add pass-catchers in the form of tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, no perimeter players were brought in. Free agency then represented the next avenue by which additions could be made, something general manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged when speaking about the roster.

“We like our receivers, we do” he said last month, adding, “we will add players to the mix. We’re doing that right now, and we’ll look at veteran players as well.” One such veteran is Will Fuller, whom Kyed names as a logical candidate for Baltimore to sign. The 28-year-old could add a speed element which was lost with Brown being traded away, and would, in all likelihood, represent another short-term, low-cost commitment the team has regularly made at the position. Baltimore could also consider T.Y. Hilton, who returned to the Colts in 2021 after receiving a larger offer from the Ravens.

With a roster spot and, quite possibly, a healthy number of targets available, those two and other wideouts still searching for a home may consider coming to Baltimore more than others have in recent years.

Latest On Browns’ Wide Receiver Situation

Fans of the Browns may have been hoping to add a few more veteran bodies to the wide receiver room this offseason, but, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, the Browns “don’t feel compelled to add a bona fide No. 2 just for the sake of it.” 

Cleveland’s receiving stats last year were nothing short of disappointing. Their wide receiver room was headed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry coming into the season with youngsters Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones eager to contribute. Paired with a three-headed tight end attack comprised of David Njoku, Austin Hooper, and Harrison Bryant, the Browns’ offensive weapons looked poised for success.

Several factors contributed to the team’s lack of production in the passing game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield played throughout the season with a torn labrum, missing some time due to the injury and leading to starts by backups Case Keenum and Nick Mullens. A disgruntled Beckham parted ways with the franchise following a frustrating first half of the season and Landry saw injuries limit his action to 12 games. Peoples-Jones made an impact, leading the team in receiving yards, but without the two leaders of the room, his efforts look less like an impressive No. 3 receiver and more like a disappointing No. 1 target. After Landry and Peoples-Jones, Mayfield mostly targeted his tight ends, with Njoku, Hooper, and Bryant making up half of the team’s top-6 players in receiving yards. Again, much like with Peoples-Jones, the tight end room’s contribution was welcomed, but without a productive 1-2 punch from the receiving corps, it only helped so much.

With veterans Beckham, Landry, and Rashard Higgins all finding their way to the NFC this offseason, the Browns lost their entire veteran presence. To offset the losses, Cleveland brought in Amari Cooper, who immediately slots in as WR1, and the diminutive Jakeem Grant, an expert in the return game. They retain youngsters Schwartz, Peoples-Jones, and Ja’Marcus Bradley, while bringing in an unproven pass catcher in Javon Wims. Through the Draft, Cleveland brought in Purdue’s David Bell and Oklahoma’s Michael Woods II. They also signed a number of undrafted college players in Isaiah Weston, Travell Harris, and Mike Harley. At tight end, the departure of Hooper leaves Cleveland with Njoku, Bryant, and unproven projects like Miller Forristall, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Zaire Mitchell-Paden, and college basketball player Marcus Santos-Silva.

It seems Cleveland is comfortable moving forward with Cooper and Peoples-Jones as their top two receivers while counting on Grant, Schwartz, and the rookie, Bell, to contribute behind them. They’ll continue to rely on tight ends Njoku and Bryant, leaning on them slightly more now that Hooper is out of the picture.

If the Browns were able to luck into a mutually beneficial deal, they may find themselves reconsidering their mindset on a veteran No.2 receiver. The free agent market still houses distinguished names like Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and DeSean Jackson. Past contributors like Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Albert Wilson remain on the market, as well. Beckham is currently a free agent who has expressed interest in returning to his most recent home in Los Angeles, but he recently claimed he wouldn’t rule out a return to Cleveland. Former Texan Will Fuller is also available to sign and has expressed interest in rejoining his former quarterback.

Regardless of whether or not they choose to add another weapon to their receiving corps, the Browns are hoping for a different outcome simply by changing the composition of personnel. Perhaps more important than any of the additions and subtractions noted above is the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson. It’s unclear how soon he’ll be able to contribute, but the prospect, alone, of having the three-time Pro Bowler under center is enough to instill confidence in the receiving room as it is for the Cleveland staff.

Titans Eyeing Another WR Addition?

The receiver room has seen plenty of turnover in Tennessee this offseason. Despite the changes already made, more could be on the way in the near future. 

According to Jim Wyatt of TennesseTitans.com, there is a strong chance of “another addition before the season at receiver”. The top of the depth chart at this time last season consisted of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, of course, but that led to mixed results on the field.

Despite having the worst statistical season of his three-year career, Brown easily led the team in receiving yards with 869. Jones, meanwhile, was only able to suit up for ten contests and likewise had a career-worst season. Overall, the team ranked 23rd in the league in the passing game; as the AFC’s top seed, however, they were obviously able to enjoy a high degree of success without an efficient aerial attack.

Not surprisingly, given his injury troubles and lack of production, Jones was released in March. That left the team looking – for the second straight offseason – for a new compliment to Brown, after seeing Corey Davis depart in free agency one year earlier. Days later, they traded for Robert Woods with the aim of accomplishing that very goal.

Woods had become expendable for the Rams, given their signing of Allen Robinson and potential reunion with Odell Beckham Jr. However, when he makes his Titans debut, he won’t be doing so alongside Brown, as the team envisioned when they acquired him. After it became clear a new contract couldn’t be agreed upon with the latter, he was traded to the Eagles in exchange for a first round pick during Day 1 of the draft.

With that selection, the Titans added Treylon Burks. One of the most unique receiving prospects in this year’s class, he should have a clear path to playing time alongside Woods and returnee Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Other than Beckham, remaining free agents include Will Fuller, T.Y. Hilton and Cole Beasley. Any of those could provide a short-term boost to the passing game as the Titans look to integrate new receiving pieces into their offense.

Latest On T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton remains a free agent, but there is still little clarity on his future. As detailed by Stephen Holder of the Athletic (subscription required), all options remain on the table for the veteran. 

One of those is retirement, something which the 32-year-old was reported to be contemplating in January, after doing the same one year earlier. His decision was set to be closely tied to that made by tight end Jack Doyle, who, in March, did indeed hang up his cleats. Ending his NFL career would be related, of course, to injuries; neck surgery limited him to 10 games last season, leading to his worst statistical performance.

Still, a return to the field for what would be his 11th campaign remains a possibility as well. Not long before Doyle’s retirement announcement, Hilton made it clear he wishes to continue playing. Just like last offseason, though, the question of whether he does so in Indianapolis or elsewhere has become central to the situation. The four-time Pro Bowler almost signed with the Ravens in 2021, ultimately choosing to remain with the Colts on a one-year, $8MM deal.

Likewise, there is “legitimate interest” in Hilton from outside teams once again, Holder reports. More to the point, Hilton has had “fruitful conversations with at least two other teams”, indicating that there is the chance he finishes his career elsewhere. That may be a stronger possibility now than it was one year ago, given the Colts’ decision to use its top draft pick on wideout Alec PierceHe, along with Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell would limit the snaps and targets Hilton would receive at this stage of his career.

Team owner Jim Irsay has left the door open to another deal with Hilton throughout the offseason when speaking about potential additions at the position. If the team were to add a veteran to its young WR corps, he would be the most logical candidate, but the team will once again have competition if it chooses to do so.

Colts Still Considering Re-Signing WR T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton could be back in Indy for an 11th season. According to NFL Network’s James Palmer (via Twitter), the Colts have had discussions with Hilton about returning for the 2022 campaign.

As Palmer cautions, the receiver hasn’t made up his mind about his future. However, GM Chris Ballard believes the wideout still has something left in the tank, and the front office has been in contact with the veteran over the past week. It sounds like a deal for Hilton could be partly contingent on what the Colts do at wide receiver during the early parts of the draft.

We heard last month that Hilton still intended to play next year. The 32-year-old is coming off a forgettable season, with injuries limited the four-time Pro Bowler to just 23 catches, 331 yards, and three touchdowns — all career lows. That’s a far cry from his best work, and it’s worth noting that Hilton hasn’t posted a 1,000-yard season since 2018.

At the moment, Michael Pittman Jr. is the only starting wideout set to return from the 2021 team. Of the remaining options, Parris Campbell has shown the most potential, but injuries have been an issue in each of his three seasons. While more targets are likely for Campbell and pass-catching back Nyheim Hines, the team could still add at the position. The free agent market still includes the likes of Hilton, but also Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry and Will Fuller. As for the draft, Indianapolis doesn’t own a first-round pick as a result of last year’s Carson Wentz trade. Their top selection is presently No. 42, which should still put them within range of some of the second- and third-tier receiver prospects in what is generally viewed as a deep class at the position.

T.Y. Hilton Wants To Continue Playing

Despite the speculation, T.Y. Hilton isn’t thinking about retirement. In recent weeks, the veteran wide receiver informed the Colts that he wants to continue playing, according to GM Chris Ballard

T.Y. can still play,” Ballard said (via Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star). “One, he’s about as smart as any player I’ve ever been around. He just knows how to play the game. Even though his skillset isn’t the same as it was three or four years ago, his instincts and his level of understand what’s happening…he knows how to play.”

Hilton is coming off of a forgettable year, one that saw the Colts’ aerial game nosedive in the second half of the season. Injuries limited the four-time Pro Bowler to just 23 catches, 331 yards, and three touchdowns — all career lows. That’s a far cry from his best work, and it’s worth noting that the 32-year-old hasn’t posted a 1,000-yard season since 2018.

Now at the age of 32, Hilton is scheduled to hit the open market later this month. It’s not a given that he’ll stay in Indy, especially if teammate and friend Jack Doyle calls it quits.

I’m just gonna take some time and talk to Jack and just go through it,” Hilton said in January when asked about the possibility of retirement. “If I want to play one more year, I could play one more year. If not, then I won’t. So [I’ll] just talk to [Doyle], see how he’s feeling and once he makes his decision, I’ll kind of know what I want to do kind of based on him.”

T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle Weighing Retirement

Barely 300 receiving yards from 10,000, T.Y. Hilton is not certain to play next season. The longtime Colts wideout is considering walking away after 10 years.

So is Jack Doyle, who has been in Indianapolis for nine seasons. Interestingly, the two plan to discuss their respective plans before making their own decisions. The veteran tight end is signed through 2022; Hilton is set for free agency again.

I’m just gonna take some time and talk to Jack and just go through it,” Hilton said, via George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin. “If I want to play one more year, I could play one more year. If not, then I won’t. So [I’ll] just talk to him, see how he’s feeling and once he makes his decision, I’ll kind of know what I want to do kind of based on him.

“Whether it’s here or whether it’s somewhere else, I’ll make my decision some time in the offseason.”

Hilton, 32, received strong interest from the Ravens in 2021 but opted to take a slightly lesser offer — one year, $8MM — to come back to the Colts. This is also not the first time Hilton considered walking away. The neck injury he suffered last summer, the latest in a recent run of injuries, sidelined him for the season’s first five weeks. During that time, he contemplated leaving the game.

The former third-round pick returned to action in October, and although his numbers were way down (23 catches, 331 yards, three touchdowns — all career-lows), the longest-tenured Colt still played a key role. While Hilton is 309 yards away from 10,000 — a club currently housing 50 players — the four-time Pro Bowler is behind only Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in Colts history. The Colts have moved to Michael Pittman Jr. as their top wideout. Regardless of Hilton’s plans, his age, Zach Pascal‘s UFA status and Parris Campbell‘s health history certainly makes wide receiver a need for the Colts this offseason.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Doyle played 58% of the Colts’ offensive snaps this season. Pro Football Focus did not observe a decline in Doyle’s blocking, slotting him as a top-five run-blocker at his position. That obviously proved key for the run-focused Colts, who unleashed Jonathan Taylor to the point he finished with a 552-yard lead for the rushing title. Doyle, 31, is set to make $4.7MM in base salary next season.