INDIANAPOLIS – T.Y. Hilton is getting his wish.
Hopeful of being a “Colt for life,’’ the veteran receiver is getting that opportunity. After briefly testing the free-agent market, Hilton has agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts that includes $8 million in guarantees, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report the transaction.
Hilton offered a quick reaction on his Twitter account.
“One thing I kno about this city . . . is that they love me,’’ he wrote Wednesday. “And I love them. I listen to all the songs. I read all the tweets. I will cherish this forever. It’s only right I finish what I started. #TYISHOME.’’
That was Hilton’s desire as he headed into his 9th season with the franchise last May.
“I mean, I want to be a Colt for life, but it takes two sides,’’ he said. “It is up to Mr. Irsay and Chris (Ballard) to get the job done.
“So for me, I want to be a Colt. So, you heard it from me.’’
He added his next contract would be his last.
“Whatever I sign for in my next contract, that’ll be when I hang it up,’’ Hilton said. “Whether it’s two years, three years, four years, whatever it is.
“Whatever I sign for in my next contract, that’ll be it for me.’’
Extension talks proved futile last offseason and broke off once the season began.
Hilton went on to have a relatively un-Hilton-like 2020 – 56 receptions, 762 yards, five touchdowns – but the team was convinced his value transcended the playing field.
The new contract is the strongest evidence. Hilton returns to what could be a solid receivers corps: Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, DeMichael Harris, Ashton Dulin.
In the days leading up to the new deal, the team’s commitment to Hilton was evident. The only question was whether he would receive an offer on the open market that made his return impossible.
“We’re all hoping and optimistic that there is a way that T.Y. can end his career as a Colt,’’ coach Frank Reich said last month. “He’s a special player – he means a lot to us as an organization – but we all understand that there is a business side to it that has to be right.
“It has to be right for T.Y. It has to be right for the Colts. I’m just hopeful that that can play out. T.Y. has been a great player here. He’s a leader on this team, and I hope the business side of that can get worked out to where he can end his career as a Colt.’’
Ballard also was effusive with his praise for Hilton during his season-ending conference call with the media.
“He’s always been a great player,’’ he said in January, “but how he has grown, I mean, teammate, man. He’s a really special dude, man.’’
Ballard shared a moment he had with Hilton prior to the Colts’ wild-card playoff game at Buffalo.
“I walked (up) and said, ‘I love ya, I do,’’’ he said. “And T.Y.’s not the most emotional guy, but he gave me a hug. He’s special, man, as a person and as a teammate and as a competitor.
“As to his ability, T.Y. can still play. Whether it’s at the level it was four or five years ago . . . as you get older you’ve got to find different ways. But I’ll tell you this: T.Y.’s smart, instinctive, knows how to get open, and he still has value. We value T.Y. We think he still can play, and he’s been a great Colt.’’
Since being selected in the third round of the 2012 draft, Hilton has established himself as one of the most prolific receivers in team history. The four-time Pro Bowl selection ranks 4th in receptions (608), 3rd in yards (9,360) behind Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and tied-4th in touchdowns (50). His 34 100-yard games also rank 3rd behind Harrison (59) and Wayne (43).
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.