The Indianapolis Colts drafted wide receiver Alec Pierce with their first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Colts then added tight ends Jelani Woods and Andrew Ogletree with later selections.
Combining those rookies with wide receiver Michael Pittman, tight end Mo Alie-Cox, running back Nyheim Hines and the other pass catchers on the roster, the Colts appear to have a capable receiving core.
Still, adding a veteran to the group wouldn’t hurt. Rookies can be exciting, but they don’t bring any previous NFL experience.
Signing an older wideout would bring that experience. Here are three veteran receivers that could still fit with the Colts even after the NFL Draft.
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The Very Obvious Free Agent Wide Receiver Fit for the Colts — T.Y. Hilton
The most obvious receiver the Colts could still target in free agency is T.Y. Hilton, who has spent the last 10 years in Indianapolis. Hilton is third in both receiving yards and receptions in Colts history.
Hilton isn’t the speedy receiver he once was. Last season, he posted 23 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games. But bringing him back would mean giving the Colts young wideouts a veteran to tutor.
Hilton has played under Frank Reich since the coach arrived with the Colts in 2018.
Reich and Colts general manager Chris Ballard have indicated this offseason that the organization is open to Hilton returning.
“We’ll still have some talks with T.Y. [Hilton],” Ballard said during his pre-draft press conference on April 22. “I think you all know my feelings towards T.Y. Hilton. I think he can still play. I think he can still play productive football.”
The Best Wide Receiver Fit Schematically — Jarvis Landry
If all goes according to plan, Pittman and Pierce will be Indianapolis’ two starting outside wide receivers. The best way to compliment those young wideouts might be to add an experience slot receiver.
The clear best slot receiver on the market is Jarvis Landry.
He’s the near definition of a possession receiver, having posted 86 catches per season since 2014 for an average of 11.0 yards per reception.
From 2015-19, Landry made five straight Pro Bowls and recorded two 100-catch campaigns. He led the NFL with 112 catches in 2017.
Last season, Landry posted a career lows of 52 catches and 570 yards in 12 contests. That led to the Cleveland Browns cutting him this offseason.
Spotrac projects Landry’s market value to be $12 million per season on a two-year deal.
The Best Free Agent Wide Receiver Fit for Matt Ryan — Julio Jones
Of the top free agent receivers left, the Colts are most comfortable in Hilton. But new Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan is most comfortable with Julio Jones.
Ryan and Jones played 10 seasons together with the Atlanta Falcons. They each reached the pinnacle at their positions, as Jones made first-team All-Pro twice, and Ryan won the 2016 NFL MVP award.
It’s an intriguing idea to pair Jones with Ryan on the same offense again, but Jones probably has the longest shot of the three receivers on this list of joining the Colts.
Jones hasn’t played a full season since 2019. Over the last two seasons combined, he’s played in just 19 games. Multiple leg injuries have sidelined him for 14 contests, and he is now 33 years old.
If Jones still wants to be paid like an elite receiver in the league, he will be too expensive. The last thing Ballard wants to do is sign an overpriced aging receiver.
Jones’ skillset is more similar to what the Colts already have at receiver on their roster as well. Discounting the relationship between Ryan and Jones, Hilton and Landry are much better fits schematically for Indianapolis.
Any of the three veterans, though, would give the Colts an extra weapon and more experience at receiver.
Spotrac reports the Colts have approximately $13.5 million remaining in salary cap space for the 2022 season. If Ballard finds it necessary, Indianapolis has the money to add one more pass-catching piece on a cheaper contract.