T.Y. Hilton

Colts To Place T.Y. Hilton On IR

T.Y. Hilton recently underwent surgery, according to GM Chris Ballard. As a result, the Colts will be forced to move the wide receiver to injured reserve to start the year (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). 

Hilton suffered an undisclosed upper back/neck injury in practice recently. It’s a frustrating setback with lousy timing, but Ballard says that Hilton is already starting to feel better.

Hilton, of course, is a team icon who currently ranks third on the Colts’ all-time receiving yards list. He has spent his entire career in Indianapolis since being selected in the third round of the 2012 draft. The two sides avoided divorce this year, even after allowing Hilton to reach the open market.

While Hilton is out, the Colts will turn to Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, and Zach Pascal for offensive firepower. They might be able to get by for now, but they’ll surely miss Hilton’s deep threat potential and experience in the coming weeks.

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Colts WR T.Y. Hilton To Miss Time; OT Sam Tevi Suffers Torn ACL

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton is expected to miss multiple weeks due to an injury sustained in practice on Wednesday, as Stephen Holder of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Hilton is dealing with an upper back/neck malady, and it is unclear exactly how long he will be sidelined (Twitter link).

Hilton, of course, is a team icon who currently ranks third on the Colts’ all-time receiving yards list. He has spent his entire career in Indianapolis since being selected in the third round of the 2012 draft, though it appeared this offseason that a divorce may be in the cards. The team let Hilton hit the open market, and he received a strong offer from the Ravens. He was on the verge of signing with Baltimore — who offered him considerably more money — before an 11th-hour call from Colts owner Jim Irsay convinced him to change his mind.

Indianapolis was looking forward to fielding an intriguing collection of WR talent with Hilton, Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, and Zach Pascal. Campbell, a 2019 second-rounder, has played in just nine games in his pro career due to injuries of his own, and Pittman is entering his second professional season. So Hilton’s experience will be beneficial to this group, and Holder notes in a separate tweet that he and QB Carson Wentz — whose Week 1 availability is also up in the air — were starting to build real chemistry in practice.

If Hilton is indeed forced to miss regular season action, another roster spot for players like Dezmon Patmon, Ashton Dulin, and Mike Strachan could be there for the taking. The Colts could also peruse the cuts that will soon be coming en masse for other options.

In other unwelcome news, Colts offensive tackle Sam Tevi has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire 2021 season, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. In Wells’ estimation, Tevi was on the roster bubble anyway. Eric Fisher, who will ultimately step in as the club’s starting left tackle, may not be ready for the start of the season, but Julie’n Davenport has taken the bulk of first-team reps at LT recently, and it sounds as if Indy prefers to deploy Davenport as the swing tackle once Fisher returns.

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Colts’ T.Y. Hilton: Retired Andrew Luck “Having The Time Of His Life”

Andrew Luck is “having the time of his life” and he’s never felt like this before, longtime teammate T.Y. Hilton says (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of The Athletic). Hilton’s comments are just the latest indication that Luck will not be returning to the NFL, despite the constant speculation about his plans. 

Luck, who won’t turn 32 until the fall, shocked the world when he retired just before the start of the 2019 season. He was just 29 at the time, but he felt that he could no longer play through the pain of his injuries. Ever since, fans have been wondering if the former No. 1 overall pick could have a change of heart,

He knows we would love to have him back,’’ owner Jim Irsay said earlier this year. “But only he can answer that question deep in his heart and his soul: ‘Hey, do I really want to come back and be a quarterback for the Colts again in the NFL?’ It’s easy for us. He knows how much we’d love to have him be our quarterback…He knows that he can come back anytime he wants, but at the same time we respect he’s made that decision.’’

Meanwhile, Hilton is on the verge of his 32nd birthday in April. He recently re-signed with the Colts on a one-year deal and acknowledges that it could be his last NFL contract.

[I] probably need to stop talking to [Luck] so much,” Hilton said. “He might make me retire. He’s making me kind of jealous.”

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Ravens Offered T.Y. Hilton More Than Colts

After a report emerged indicating the Ravens out-offered the Steelers for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the team also submitted T.Y. Hilton a better offer than the Colts did (video link).

Hilton agreed to stay with the Colts on a one-year, $8MM pact. All $8MM is guaranteed, with the Colts including $2MM in incentives. The 31-year-old wide receiver has spent his entire career in Indianapolis and will now team with a fourth starting quarterback in four years, agreeing to become perhaps the centerpiece target of a Carson Wentz-led attack.

The four-time Pro Bowler said he was on the cusp of becoming a Raven, being dissatisfied with a Colts offer as late as Wednesday afternoon. A Jim Irsay call helped influence Hilton to stay in Indianapolis.

I was almost gone. Five seconds away, man. That was it,” Hilton said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show of his prospects of joining the Ravens (via Fox 59’s Mike Chappell). “I’ve been talking to (the Ravens) the whole time. They came in and made a great push at the end and they wanted to get it done.”

Baltimore’s offer may have exceeded Indy’s by a notable amount, with Hilton saying he would have “made more money the day I signed (with the Ravens) than my whole contract with Indy.” Hilton committed to picking a destination Wednesday and said he was set to move on after hearing what may have been the Colts’ penultimate offer.

I’ve been texting Chris Ballard the while time,” Hilton said. “By 2:30, I’m like, ‘By 3:00, I’m signing somewhere. Wherever it’s at, I’m signing.’ Then 2:55 I got off the phone with Chris and I’m like, ‘Are we going to get this thing done? How can we get this done?

… I’m like, ‘It’s all right. I guess it’s good for me to go to this next team. As soon as I close his message, Irsay texted me.”

It is unclear how big the gap between the Baltimore and Indianapolis offers was, but Hilton’s decision represents a win for a Colts team that featured a void at receiver. As a result of the Colts’ 11th-hour push to keep their nine-year weapon, the Ravens’ receiver deficiency remains.

The Ravens were not expected to be aggressive for a No. 1 wide receiver, but their actions have shown they want a veteran to join their Marquise Brown-led group. They pursued Kenny Golladay and offered Smith-Schuster $9MM, with $4MM through incentives. That offer topped Pittsburgh’s. Both players committed elsewhere. Sammy Watkins is also on Baltimore’s radar, having visited last week. Watkins also visited the Colts but remains a free agent.

Baltimore has missed out on most of the big-name targets. It should not be considered a surprise that veteran receivers are not especially eager to become part of the NFL’s run-heaviest offense. John Harbaugh said in January the Ravens would love to add at this position but indicated the team’s winning culture, not its propensity (or lack thereof) for helping receivers to big numbers, would be what drove wideouts to Baltimore. So far, this year’s top available wideouts have been unwilling to sign on.

Since the Ravens retooled their offense around Lamar Jackson, they have made the playoffs three times and re-established themselves as an AFC power. However, their passing attack ranked last in 2020 and 27th in 2019. While Brown did improve in his second season, compiling 769 receiving yards, the team has sought bigger-name players to join him. The Ravens, as they did when they acquired Brown and Miles Boykin, may need to look to the draft to upgrade at receiver. In addition to Watkins, Golden Tate, Adam Humphries and Dede Westbrook are some of the names available. Antonio Brown, Marquise’s cousin that was connected to the Ravens last year, is still unsigned as well.

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Details On T.Y. Hilton’s New Colts Contract

This week, the Colts kept T.Y. Hilton with a one-year deal worth up to $10MM. The deal includes $8MM guaranteed. To earn the full remaining $2MM, the veteran wide receiver will have to turn back the clock. 

[RELATED: Colts Re-Sign T.Y. Hilton]

According to PFT, Hilton will get $250K for each of the following milestones: 50 catches, 60 catches, 70 catches, and 80 catches. He’ll also get $250K for each of the following yardage milestones: 600 yards, 700 yards, 800 yards, and 900 yards. In other words, to make $10MM in 2021, Hilton needs 80 receptions for 900 yards receiving.

Hilton topped 80/900 in 2013, 2014, and 2016. He hasn’t done it since, but he did come awfully close in 2018 when he finished with 76 catches for 1,270 yards. After an injury-riddled 2019 and a 56/762/5 stat line in 2020, Hilton is hoping to get back to his old form this year.

Even though Hilton will turn 32 this year, he had plenty of interest elsewhere, including at least one offer that was reportedly stronger than Indy’s. The Chiefs were among the teams connected to Hilton, though they were not the club that beat the Colts’ offer.

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Colts To Re-Sign T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton isn’t going anywhere. The Colts legend will be returning to Indianapolis on a new deal, his agents the Katz Bros tell Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It’ll be a one-year deal for the veteran receiver worth $10MM with $8MM guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a nice payday for a player on the back half of his career. Hilton has been with the Colts ever since they drafted him back in 2012, but this offseason for the first time it looked like a divorce was possible. Both sides had insisted they would like a reunion, but we heard right before free agency opened that there had been little progress on talks and Hilton would test the market.

Another team is believed to have submitted Hilton a stronger offer, according to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder (on Twitter). But the 31-year-old wideout opted to stay in Indianapolis. The Chiefs were not the team that offered more to Hilton, per Holder.

Owner Jim Irsay had said back in January he’d want to see the franchise icon return if the financials could be worked out. Hilton had been one of the top receivers left on the market. The wideout market in general has been heating up recently, with big names like Hilton, Kenny Golladay, and Will Fuller all signing over the past week. Teams like the Ravens looking to add a veteran pass-catcher are running out of top options.

He was still dominant as recently as 2018, when he put up 1,270 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games. Injuries limited him to ten contests in 2019, but he bounced back with a healthy 2020.

He wasn’t a true number one option as Indy had a lot of mouths to feed in a diverse offense, but he developed a rapport with Philip Rivers down the stretch and finished with a solid 56 catches for 762 yards and five scores in 15 games.

Hilton made four straight Pro Bowls from 2014-17, and although he’ll turn 32 this season, showed last year he’s still got something left in the tank. He’ll be catching passes from his fourth quarterback in as many years in 2021, this time from Carson Wentz.

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Colts’ WR T.Y. Hilton, CB Xavier Rhodes Likely To Hit Open Market

On the eve of the legal tampering period, it appears that two of the Colts’ top free agents will be permitted to speak with other clubs. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes, there has been little to no progress in Indianapolis’ contract talks with WR T.Y. Hilton and CB Xavier Rhodes.

With respect to Hilton, this report is not exactly surprising. The lifelong Colt might be third on the team’s all-time receiving yards list, but he is now 31 and has lost a step or two over the past several years. This offseason, owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard both spoke highly of Hilton while acknowledging that the market would dictate whether or not he would be back in Indy in 2021.

Still, Hilton’s 762 receiving yards in 2020 led the team, despite the fact that he did not get many touches early in the year and was not frequently targeted downfield by quarterback Philip Rivers. Even though there are a number of quality free agent wideouts who did not get the franchise tag, not many of them are clear upgrades over Hilton, and Ballard generally takes a cautious approach to outside FAs anyway. Plus, while the Colts will return promising youngsters Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal, they want to surround new QB Carson Wentz with as much skill position talent as possible.

All of that could point to a Hilton re-up, but it seems that Ballard will not be leading the charge in the bidding. If the decreased salary cap and the number of other FA receivers keep Hilton’s price down, he might be back in Indy. But if another team is willing to spend big, expect Ballard to look elsewhere.

Rhodes, meanwhile, washed out of Minnesota but experienced a rebirth in 2020 after signing a modest one-year, $3MM pact with the Colts last offseason. He yielded a completion percentage of just 51.2% and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best CB, but according to Holder, there has been very little communication between Indianapolis and Rhodes’ camp. Ballard was burned the one time he made a major free agent investment at cornerback (Pierre Desir), so he could be on the lookout for another reclamation project like Rhodes.

The Colts are high on 2020 sixth-rounder Isaiah Rodgers and will return Kenny Moore, but it’s a little curious that they have made no real effort to retain Rhodes to this point.

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Dolphins Aiming To Add Multiple WRs

The Dolphins have DeVante Parker signed long-term, but they appear set to devote free agency funds and/or draft capital to addressing their other wide receiver spots.

In addition to seeking help opposite Parker on the boundary, the Dolphins believe they need to upgrade in the slot as well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The franchise plans to address both positions, be it in free agency or the draft. With several receivers set to be available in unrestricted free agency and other pass catchers on the cap-casualty radar, this is a good year to need help at this position.

Prior to the franchise tag deadline, the receiver market is set to include Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Corey Davis, Antonio Brown, Curtis Samuel, Nelson Agholor, Sammy Watkins and A.J. Green. Potential cap casualties, like the Jets’ Jamison Crowder or Bills’ John Brown, may join this list and further create a buyer’s market for receiver-needy teams. While most of this group’s futures remain uncertain, the Buccaneers are not planning to let Godwin become available. Though, Tampa Bay has several high-profile free agents of note.

Multiple players in this group already have interest in Miami, per Jackson, who adds that Jones and Hilton have the Dolphins on their respective radars. (The Jaguars are also on Jones’ radar, according to Jackson.) While both Jones and Hilton are over 30, neither’s price should be expected to approach the high-end WR1 ranks. The Dolphins currently sit eighth in cap space, though other receiver-needy teams — like the Jaguars, Colts, Jets and Patriots — reside on a higher tier in terms of offseason funds.

The Dolphins currently hold two first-round picks (Nos. 3 and 18) and two second-rounders (Nos. 36 and 50). With another strong receiver class set to enter the league, the team would be well positioned to address either its slot or boundary needs here. Though, the Texans making Deshaun Watson available could change the Dolphins’ draft outlook. Miami resides at or near the top of the disgruntled quarterback’s destination list. But whoever the Dolphins slot at quarterback next season should have a better arsenal to target.

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Colts Notes: QBs, Hilton, Pascal, Houston

The Colts are hunting for a quarterback following the retirement of Philip Rivers, but at least one individual believes the replacement is already on the roster. Jacob Eason recently told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that it’s “realistic as soon as possible” for him to compete for the Colts starting quarterback gig.

“I got a lot of work ahead of me, a lot of areas to improve and grow, but if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to put my best foot forward and give you the best shot I can,” Eason said.

Following a standout career at Washington, Eason was a fourth-round pick by the Colts in this past year’s draft. While the rookie didn’t see the field during his first NFL season, he was able to garner the praise of GM Chris Ballard and former quarterbacks coach (and current offensive coordinator) Marcus Brady.

“I didn’t have that many opportunities to go out there and prove myself and show what I can do to these coaches and this team,” Eason said. “But there were moments in training camp where I was given the opportunity to go play and do my thing, and I did that.”

Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy…

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Ballard kept the door open on retaining backup QB Jacoby Brissett. “We like Jacoby,’’ Ballard said (via Mike Chappell of Fox59.com). “We’ve got to let that work out.’’ The 28-year-old has alternated between being a starting QB and backup QB during his four seasons with Indianapolis. Following a 2019 campaign that saw Brissett complete 60.9-percent of his passes while tossing 18 touchdowns in 15 starts, the quarterback was limited to only 48 offensive snaps in 2020. The former third-round is set to hit free agency this offseason.
  • The Colts have interest in retaining a pair of free agent wideouts. Ballard said he believes veteran T.Y. Hilton can still play a significant role, and he noted the market will dictate whether the receiver returns to Indianapolis (via Kevin Bowen of 1075 The Fan on Twitter). Hilton finished the 2020 season having hauled in 56 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ballard hinted that the organization will be bringing back restricted free agent receiver Zach Pascal, presumably via a tender (via Bowen). Pascal had a career year for the Colts, surpassing or tying career highs in receptions (44), receiving yards (629), and touchdowns (five).
  • Ballard also attributed Justin Houston‘s future in Indianapolis to the “market,” per Bowen on Twitter. Following an eight-year stint with the Chiefs, Houston joined the Colts on a two-year, $24MM deal prior to the 2019 season. In two seasons with the Colts, the 32-year-old has collected 69 tackles and 19 sacks in 32 starts.

Jim Irsay On Hilton, Luck, QBs

Jim Irsay is one of the most forthcoming owners in sports, and he was once again an open book when giving an end of year press conference earlier this week. Irsay spoke on a number of topics very relevant to Colts fans, as well as the league as a whole. Let’s start with the question everyone wants answered every few months, Andrew Luck.

Irsay once again reiterated that he’d love to have Luck back, and that the door is wide open on their end. “He knows we would love to have him back,’’ Irsay said, via Mike Chappell of Fox 59. “But only he can answer that question deep in his heart and his soul: ‘Hey, do I really want to come back and be a quarterback for the Colts again in the NFL?’ It’s easy for us. He knows how much we’d love to have him be our quarterback.” It doesn’t sound like he’s banking on it, but he’s clearly at least still holding out hope. “He knows that he can come back anytime he wants, but at the same time we respect he’s made that decision.’’

Luck is still only 31, so he’s got plenty of time if the early retiree ever does change his mind. Irsay also talked about the immediate. quarterback situation with Philip Rivers electing to retire this offseason. Irsay said the team believes they’re another quarterback away from being Super Bowl contenders, and they do have a very talented nucleus and great coaching staff.

He did caution that the team wouldn’t make a move just for the sake of making one, saying “we just have to make sure we go in the right direction without setting ourselves back as we pursue the new quarterback frontier.” When you couple that with GM Chris Ballard recently hinting that he doesn’t want to draft a quarterback in the first-round, it really sounds like the Colts would prefer an established veteran.

Indy has been linked to Matthew Stafford, although Stafford is far from the only experienced quarterback who will be available in what should be an unprecedented offseason for signal-caller movement. Finally, Irsay also talked about impending free agent T.Y. Hilton, saying the team wants him back but acknowledging that money issues could prevent that.

We’d love to see T.Y. back. There’s no question about it,’’ Irsay said, before immediately adding “look, there’s a business side to it.” He went on to say “you want a guy back, but it has to fit into what you view, what the marketplace dictates. It really comes down to that. The biggest thing I’ve found is you want guys who really want to be here, and so sometimes if they don’t hit their price mark, you don’t want them to be resentful.”

Hilton is 31 now and got off to a slow start in 2020 before developing a rhythm with Rivers and breaking out down the stretch. He’s past his prime physically but showed in the second half he’s still got a good amount left in the tank. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of contract the Colts legend lands this offseason.

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