While the Indianapolis Colts get ready to take on the Buffalo Bills, WR T.Y. Hilton could very well be making his last appearance for the franchise as he hits free agency at the start of the 2021 season. When looking at his age and team needs around the league, there are some interesting potential suitors for T.Y. Hilton that could make a run for him in free agency.
T.Y. Hilton’s contract season did not start off the way he intended
The start of the 2020 season was less than ideal for T.Y. Hilton, who is on the wrong side of 31 years old. In his first 10 games, Hilton saw double-digit targets once (Week 5). He has one game over 70 yards receiving and didn’t catch his first TD until Week 12.
Safe to say, the narrative was that T.Y. Hilton’s better days are behind him. Realistically that is likely true. Father Time is undefeated, and Hilton has had a great career since being drafted in the third round in 2012 by the Colts.
Coming into 2020, Hilton crossed the 1,000 receiving yard mark five times in his eight years. His 2019 season broke a streak that started as a rookie where he caught at least 50 passes, saw 90 or more targets, had more than 861 receiving yards, and had four or more touchdowns.
Since Week 12, T.Y. Hilton showed he has more left in the tank heading into free agency
After finally scoring his first touchdown, something seemed to flip for Hilton as he went on a tear to close out the regular season. From Week 12, Hilton was 14th in the NFL in yardage with 435 in six games and scored five times (tied for third). Hilton did this while seeing 22% of the target share and leading the Colts in all receiving categories.
It is worth mentioning who this came against for context. In Hilton’s final six games, the Colts played Tennessee, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and Houston twice. The Raiders, Jaguars, and Texans are all bottom 10 in yards per target. Houston and Tennessee gave up the third-most touchdowns to WRs (22), with Las Vegas and Jacksonville tied for ninth (18). All of his touchdowns came against bad teams. During this stretch, Hilton had his first 100-yard receiving game since December of 2018. That was three starting quarterbacks ago.
It proves that Hilton did what he should have done to win the matchups that he should win. That’s what great receivers do. With the regular season said and done, Hilton ended it leading the Colts WRs with 56 catches on 93 targets for 762 yards and five TDs.
Having been a reliable WR all his career and ending the season on a high note, T.Y. Hilton enters free agency with several options in front of him.
What are some possible locations for T.Y. Hilton in 2021 free agency period?
There is not a team in the NFL that wouldn’t get better team by adding Hilton. While he might not be the alpha in the room, he doesn’t need to be, nor will he require that size of a contract either.
Hilton could go back to the Indianapolis Colts
The grass is not always greener on the other side. I don’t think the question is “if the Colts want him back,” it’s if T.Y. Hilton wants to go back. The Colts can bring back Hilton without breaking the bank; not that cap space is an issue ($65.45 million projected right now, according to Over The Cap).
Back in May, Hilton said he wanted to be with the Colts for life.
“I want to be here,” the nine-year veteran said. “But (an extension) takes two sides. That’s up to Mr. (Jim) Irsay and Chris (Ballard) to get the job done. For me, I want to be a Colt.”
They have a room with talented young WRs in Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell (once healthy). Hilton could be the veteran presence in the locker room. When looking at this scenario, you have to remember that guys don’t get to hit free agency very often. If the two sides don’t work out a deal before mid-March, you can’t blame Hilton at all if he at least wanted to see what his market looks like for 2021. It likely will be the last one he ever signs.
The New England Patriots desperately need WRs
The Patriots lack talent at wide receiver; that is easy to tell. N’Keal Harry isn’t working out, and their leading WR is a UDFA from NC State. They seem sure to draft someone early at the position in April. They also have the cap space to add a veteran or two as well, and overhaul the depth chart if they wish to. A chance at QB will occur as well, leading to Hilton being the primary option for at least the 2021 season.
Aaron Rodgers could finally have a reliable WR2 in Green Bay
Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in the league. He just had more receiving touchdowns than the Washington Football Team combined. However, outside of him, there are questions. Allen Lazard looked good at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, but ever since undergoing core muscle surgery, he hasn’t been the same. But beyond them, there is nothing but question marks.
Aaron Rodgers is 37 years old, and even though he is playing as well as anyone else, the window is closing to get him another ring. They screwed up the draft last season. Adding T.Y. Hilton in 2021 free agency could be a massive addition to the Packers’ offense.
Could T.Y. Hilton stay in the division in 2021?
If there is one team T.Y. Hilton knows well, it is the Houston Texans. The Texans are in a bad place as a franchise. They just went 4-12 and don’t have a pick until the third round of the draft.
The one bright spot on the franchise is Deshaun Watson, one of the best quarterbacks on the planet. Will Fuller will be a free agent, and DeAndre Hopkins isn’t coming back anytime soon. They do not have tons of cap space to work with. But if Hilton can be had for a veteran’s price, this makes sense. They have to stop wasting Watson’s best years. If adding talent through the draft is not an option, free agency is the only option.
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