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T.Y. Hilton
NFL

TY Hilton: 3 Best Free Agent Fits

  • Justin Melo
  • May 19, 2022
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Although today’s pass-happy league places more emphasis on rostering capable pass-catchers than ever before, several veteran difference-makers remain on the free-agent market as we approach the end of May. Odell Beckham Jr. is undeniably the most exciting receiver available, but teams searching for lower-cost veterans have several potential options at their disposal. Free-agent wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is one of the most recognizable and productive receivers currently without a team or contract.

A four-time Pro Bowler and the league’s receiving yards leader in 2016, Hilton has spent his entire 10-year career as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Hilton signed a one-year contract to resume playing with the Colts prior to the 2021 campaign. Hilton spent the majority of the season battling injuries and managed to record just 23 receptions for 331 yards and three touchdowns. All three outputs represented career lows for the highly touted Miami, Florida native. 

Hilton remains interested in potentially resuming his playing career, and when healthy, can still play a high-upside role as a team’s No. 2 or 3 receiver. Hilton is currently waiting for the right opportunity to reveal itself. We’ve identified three franchises that should possess an interest in signing Hilton to a short-term contract before training camp begins.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard has spent the majority of the offseason sorting through his team’s questionable quarterback situation. Ballard managed to deal away the disappointing Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders before acquiring veteran signal-caller Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons. Ryan joins a Colts team with a superstar running back in Jonathan Taylor and a strong offensive line, but questions at the receiver position remain present.

Michael Pittman Jr. is a starting-quality receiver on the boundary, but the Colts possess little in the form of proven depth behind him. Ballard used the team’s second-round selection (their first in the 2022 NFL Draft as a result of last year’s trade for Wentz) to draft former Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce, who is expected to play a sizable role as a rookie. Parris Campbell, a talented but injury-prone player, remains in the mix as well. Keke Coutee, Ashton Dulin and Michael Strachan are wild cards that could impact Indianapolis’ willingness to bring Hilton back. Dulin and Strachan are especially intriguing. Their offseason performances could directly impact or eliminate Indianapolis’ requirement to bring in a veteran such as Hilton.

Ballard and the Colts must figure out how their depth chart shakes out. An experienced quarterback such as Ryan would undeniably enjoy working alongside a savvy veteran such as Hilton while welcoming the opportunity to distribute the ball to another proven pass-catching weapon. Hilton could end up back in Indianapolis.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

The Baltimore Ravens currently feature one of the least appealing groups of wide receivers across the league. A disagreement between the two sides left Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta with no choice but to trade disgruntled receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals in April. Brown’s departure has left Lamar Jackson and the Ravens without a clear-cut No. 1 receiver on the boundary. That role is expected to be filled by sophomore-to-be Rashod Bateman, who only appeared in 12 regular-season contests as a rookie.

Bateman is joined in Baltimore’s receiver room by an abundance of unproven talents such as Tylan Wallace, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche II. All three pass-catchers are currently being miscast into prominent roles. The presence of elite tight end Mark Andrews paired with the Ravens’ run-first identity makes Baltimore’s situation at receiver somewhat more acceptable, but more is required at the position. The Ravens also surprisingly decided against drafting a single receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft despite making a league-high 11 selections.

The Ravens attempted to sign Hilton to a multi-year contract in unrestricted free agency last season before he ultimately opted to return to the Colts. The Ravens’ situation at receiver has become even more dire since then, and DeCosta may want to consider rekindling that interest ahead of the 2022 campaign. Jackson and the offense could use a veteran receiver such as Hilton.

CHICAGO BEARS

Bears sophomore signal-caller Justin Fields is entering a crucial second campaign and yet Bears General Manager Ryan Poles has largely neglected the team’s less-than-desirable situation at receiver. Allen Robinson II departed for greener pastures by signing a multi-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams. leaving Darnell Mooney as the new No. 1 receiver in Chicago. Poles and the Bears were largely expected to draft a wide receiver with one of their two second-round selections in April’s draft, but the Bears pulled a surprise when they decided to double down in the secondary by drafting Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker instead.

The Bears ended up drafting former Tennessee Volunteers receiver Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. Poles has since then further addressed the position by signing several veterans to one-year prove-it deals, most notably Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe. Byron Pringle, Damiere Byrd, and Equanimeous St. Brown have also joined the Bears this offseason. A proven veteran could really help uplift this group.

Furthermore, there’s a rather notable connection worth exploring here. New Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus spent the previous four seasons alongside Hilton in Indianapolis while serving as the Colts’ defensive coordinator. Eberflus coached on the other side of the ball, but he’s extremely familiar with Hilton’s skill set and personality.

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Justin Melo