Colts' $65 Million Extension for WR T.Y. Hilton Has Houston Texans Ramifications
If all NFL transactions were treated equally and scored as "hits" or "misses," the track record of Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is probably a fairly sizable negative number. Fortunately for Grigson, not all NFL transactions are created nor treated equally.
For starters, Grigson was fortunate enough to draft quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in 2012, a selection that has yielded a future league MVP and a masking agent that covers up some massive negligence on the Colts' defensive side of the ball and issues all along their offensive line. Luck's presence alone assures the Colts at least 10 wins in virtually any season.
Grigson has had a few other hits beside Luck, though, and on Thursday morning he took the necessary steps to make sure that one of those "hits" will be a Colt for the next half decade, inking Luck's most explosive target, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, to a five-year, $65 million extension, with $39 million of the extension to be guaranteed.
Hilton's signing ends several weeks of fairly public negotiations and gives Hilton nearly twice as much guaranteed money in his deal as the next closest player on the Colts roster (which happens to be Luck at $22 million, a number that will be destroyed when Luck eventually signs his next deal, which will likely make him the highest paid player in the league). Hilton is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance last season, notching 82 catches and 1,345 yards.
"It's a great day for the Indianapolis Colts, T.Y. Hilton and his family," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. "We're extremely happy as an organization to ensure that T.Y. will continue to be a part of our journey for many years to come. His daily excellence on and off the field is a shining example of an individual striving for greatness and what it truly means to be a Colt."
The signing has a handful of ripple effects that directly and indirectly effect the Houston Texans:
1. The signing of Hilton helps the Colts off the field in numerous ways. Obviously, it sends a message to the young nucleus in the locker room (many of whom are draft classmates of Hilton) that the team will reward performance, which is great for morale. Additionally, it affords the Colts some flexibility with upcoming contract negotiations with tight end Coby Fleener and tackle Anthony Castonzo, and leaves the franchise tag available for one of those two players, if necessary, next offseason.
2. On the field, if there's one current player that best fits the role of "Texans killer," it's Hilton. In six games against Houston, the fourth year wide receiver from Florida International has averaged 6 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown per game. In two of his three seasons, he's had his best game of that particular season against the Texans, and in the other season (2013) he still torched the Texans for three touchdowns in one game. This contract extension assures he will be torturing Houston for the remainder of the decade.
3. In the ripple effect that has the least short-term effect, but will certainly impact the Texans down the road, this deal sets the market for Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Through their first two seasons, here are the Hilton's and Hopkins' numbers:
HILTON: 132 catches, 1,944 yards, 12 touchdowns
HOPKINS: 128 catches, 2,012 yards, 8 touchdowns
Pretty similar, right? The Texans will, however, have one option the Colts didn't have with Hilton. Since Hopkins was a first round pick in 2013, the Texans have a fifth year option they can use to keep Hopkins locked in for another year (which would be 2017) before giving him a long-term (presumably lucrative) extension. The Texans' normal mode, though, has been to extend key players at least a year early, and Hopkins would certainly fit that bill of "key player."
If Hopkins makes a similar leap in Year 3 of his career as Hilton did in his, then Hilton's deal should be the starting point for Hopkins, who will have put up his numbers with a significantly inferior quarterback getting him the ball than Hilton has had in his career.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.
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