The Indianapolis Colts did not appear poised to hand out any more contract extensions this offseason, but the team decided to make one more move before the season officially began. With the wide receiver market set after Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas signed their respective contracts, the Colts officially opened up negotiations with TY Hilton and got a deal done faster than many expected.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Colts have re-signed Hilton to a five-year, $65 million contract with $39 million in guaranteed money. The receiver who has been with the team for four seasons now is coming off his first Pro Bowl year with 1,345 yards last season. He became one of Andrew Luck's favorite targets and the Colts opted to keep him around for the long-term and signed him to a deal before he entered the last year of his rookie contract.
So where does the deal for Hilton leave the Colts with other big contracts approaching? With several big names preparing to hit the market for the team, the Colts still have their two franchise tags in place to use next season. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener will all be looking for new deals as they represent the core group of players for Indianapolis.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Colts are more likely to use a tag on one of the tight ends rather than Castonzo since the one-year tender is much cheaper for either Fleener or Allen than it is for the left tackle. The issue is whether or not the Colts can actually keep both tight ends or not. Fleener and Allen were drafted in the same season and both will hit the market at the same time. Fleener has the better stats, but Allen has the better injury history while being regarded as he more complete tight end.
The Indianapolis Star warns fans that the Colts could choose between the two players next offseason considering Indianapolis also needs to worry about re-signing Luck. The quarterback is the next big name to earn a contract extension. Owner Jim Irsay has made it clear that Luck will not get re-signed until next offseason at the earliest and his deal will factor into contract talks for everyone else. Regardless, Irsay made it clear that he intends to keep everyone around.
"My belief has always been to keep the core players, really good players for your football team," Irsay said, via ESPN.com. "That's my plan here. To get those guys second contracts. It's going to be harder to be involved in free agency, but that's fine. We're not going to be making the splashes the next few years like we did this offseason, just because the money won't be available because of the cap. However, look for us to keep core players and our top players."