The Indianapolis Colts’ season ended abruptly following their loss to the Buffalo Bills, and immediately the focus shifted to the offseason. What free agents would the Colts retain? What about a quarterback? Anthony Castonzo retiring?! Stop this!
Thankfully, general manager Chris Ballard was there to save the day and spoke with the media at length on Thursday to clear up a number of issues. He was as candid as can be for the fans in Indy, so it’s hard to be upset with the current state of affairs. There’s work to do. Everyone knows it. Ballard’s doing his best and understands the concerns.
One of the topics of discussion was TY Hilton, who will be a free agent when the new league year begins. Over the last year and a half, it sure seemed like the veteran booked his one-way ticket out of Indianapolis, but a second-half surge in 2020 has perhaps changed the narrative. Here’s what Ballard had to say about Hilton’s situation:
"“T.Y. can still play. Whether it’s at the level he was four or five years ago … T.Y. is smart, instinctive, knows how to get open and he still has value. We’ll see how it works out. We value T.Y. and he can still play and he’s been a great Colt.”"
Though it’s clear the Colts’ wide receiving corps is very much moving in a different direction, Hilton is still only 31 years old and can serve as the veteran glue guy who’s very much necessary when a team is developing a new, young unit. On top of that, we’ve seen Hilton can still play at a high level when the injuries are far enough in the rearview.
It’s never a bad idea to have too many receivers. Michael Pittman Jr. looks like a mainstay, as does Zach Pascal, but there are still question marks surrounding Parris Campbell and Dezmon Patmon. Even if the Colts were to bring back Hilton and sign a big ticket free agent — someone like Allen Robinson — there’d still be plenty of touches to be had the way offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni spreads the ball around.
You can never count out the familiarity and continuity a guy like Hilton brings to the table, even if he isn’t atop his game anymore. Ballard likely knows that, which is why he by no means shut the door on a reunion.
At the very least, don’t be surprised if Hilton gets a one-year contract with the Colts in an effort to rebuild his value after a poor 2019 and 2020.