Indianapolis Colts fans have been on pins and needles waiting to find out the fate of veteran wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. For the first time in his NFL career, the four-time Pro Bowler is cruising for the open waters of unrestricted free agency.
While fans don't quite yet know what GM Chris Ballard will ultimately opt to do with Hilton, rest assured, he wants to remain in Indianapolis.
“They know how I feel. Mr. Irsay, Chris Ballard and Frank [Reich], they all say they want me back,” Hilton told SiriusXM NFL radio. “I said it all throughout the season, I would love to come back and hopefully it works out.”
The Colts' triumvirate of owner Jim Irsay, head coach Frank Reich, and Ballard have professed privately to Hilton a desire to re-sign him, and the odds are good that it'll happen. But it's the NFL and anything could happen.
If Hilton hits the open market, all bets are off on a return to Indy. That's just the nature of supply and demand. If outside teams pursue the 31-year-old receiver, the Colts lose that exclusive upper hand, which is why it would behoove Ballard, if indeed the GM wants Hilton back, to try to work something out before the legal tampering period opens up across the league on March 15.
Hilton just completed his ninth season, starting 15 games. Catching passes from then-QB Philip Rivers saw the shifty but trusty wideout haul in 56 receptions on 93 targets for 762 yards and five touchdowns.
Hilton might no longer be an upper-echelon receiver but he can still be dynamic and would make for one heck of a security blanket for the Philadelphia transplant Carson Wentz. Hilton earned a whopping $14.52 million in the final year of his contract and however his free-agent trek shakes out, it's safe to say he's not going to sniff that type of money, whether internally or from outside suitors.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.