Colts: Would Sammy Watkins have been a better fit than TY Hilton?
The Indianapolis Colts’ conservative approach to free agency hasn’t sat well with fans, though they will have very little to complain about following the respective deals for wideout TY Hilton and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Speaking just in terms of Hilton, however, he revealed after re-signing with Indy that he was seconds away from inking a deal with the Baltimore Ravens that would’ve paid him a lot more.
Ironically enough, the Ravens acted quickly after getting spurned by Hilton and signed touted free agent Sammy Watkins, who visited the Colts that same week, to a one-year, $6 million deal.
Given the lack of buzz we heard in terms of Indianapolis pursuing a wide receiver in free agency, you have to assume they would’ve signed Watkins had Hilton bolted for Baltimore.
After all, the former No. 4 overall pick was the only noteworthy name they brought in for a visit.
With that in mind, is it worth pondering if Watkins would’ve been a better fit than Hilton, who will turn 32 in the middle of next season and regressed significantly last campaign?
Would Sammy Watkins have been a better fit for the Colts than TY Hilton?
Let’s start by saying that we’re absolutely juiced to have Hilton back with the Colts, and the fact that he took a discount in order to stick around only amplified our adoration for him.
If we’re speaking strictly in terms of culture and locker room morale, Hilton obviously would have gotten our vote over Watkins. The former second-rounder has spent the entirety of his career (nine seasons) in Indianapolis and is beloved by the organization and fan base.
With that being said, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that signing him over Watkins was the right football move. For starters, Watkins is equally adept to lining up in the slot and outside, which makes him more versatile than Hilton, who does most of his damage terrorizing defenders along the sidelines and on the perimeter.
Both players come with injury concerns, but there’s no debating that Hilton has been markedly more durable than Watkins, who hasn’t played a full 16-game slate since his rookie campaign seven years ago in 2014. Seeing as though Watkins is only 27 years old, however, you could also argue that he comes with less risk than Hilton, who always seems to be dealing with a blemish or impediment.
As far as production is concerned, Hilton has a distinct advantage over Watkins, though it’s hard to gauge the last three years of the latter’s career. After all, he struggled to generate consistent looks in the Chiefs’ overpowering offense, which emphasizes distribution.
The last time Watkins was a featured WR was when he was in Buffalo and he was actually incredibly productive during his time there, averaging 62.5 targets, 1,014 receiving yards and 7.5 touchdowns over his first two seasons in the league.
There’s just so many factors to consider in this debate. The Colts honestly couldn’t have gone wrong with signing either player, but if we had to pick a side we would have liked to see them take a gamble on the speedy Watkins and let Hilton, whose prime years are clearly behind him, leave in free agency.
For the Colts’ sake, let’s hope we’re proven wrong in due time.