Free agency has been referred to by at least one writer as the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” It’s a double movie reference that FPC’s Mike D’Abate would likely enjoy.
In 2012, the Indianapolis Colts used the first overall pick on Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck. They used the next three selections on weapons to help their rookie signal-caller in college teammate and tight end Coby Fleener – a second-round choice – and third rounders in tight end Dwayne Allen (Clemson) and speedy wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (Florida International).
Now nearly a decade later, the only member of then-general manager Ryan Grigson’s draft class still playing football at the moment is Hilton. He’s put up some impressive numbers in nine NFL campaigns, totaling 608 catches for 9,360 yards and 60 scores. On five occasions, he’s totaled at least 1,000 receiving yards and he led the league in that category with 1,448 yards in 2016. Hilton was also named to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2014-17. He played and started in 15 games in 2020 and finished with 56 grabs, good for 762 yards and five scores for Frank Reich’s playoff-bound team.
Back to 2012. The Colts reached the playoffs that year. It was a season in which head coach Chuck Pagano was felled by cancer and then-offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over. For his efforts, the latter earned NFL Coach of the Year honors. Of course, Arians went onto coach the Arizona Cardinals, took 2018 off, was hired by the Buccaneers one year later and was recently holding a Lombardi Trophy.
Of course, Hilton is on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent. Meanwhile, the Bucs are busy putting the band back together after winning Super Bowl LV. Mike Evans is one of the best wideouts in the business, the team has speedy Scott Miller and Chris Godwin just got the franchise tag. Meanwhile, veteran Antonio Brown can also hit the free-agent market. Which means there could be an opening for Hilton in Tampa?
Call it a hunch, spider senses or just connecting the dots. If the Colts don’t retain Hilton, it would not be out of the question to see him in Tampa back with a coach he spent some time with.