ANDERSON – Things looked bleak in February.
Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for T.Y. Hilton, first approached the Colts at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis about a possible extension for his Pro Bowl client.
Rosenhaus knew that the Colts had not done an extension yet in the Ryan Grigson era. He also knew that Hilton was a player who would merit at least some consideration of the Colts making an exception.
Contract extensions following three NFL seasons are rare.
That adjective can also be used to describe the talent of Hilton.
That's why both parties came to an agreement on Thursday morning, with Hilton signing a five-year extension to stay with the Colts.
"I'm really happy for T.Y. and his family. It's well deserved," Chuck Pagano said on Thursday morning.
"Anytime you're productive, you're are a great teammate, you're doing the right thing on the field/off the field, this is what you have."
The positives for the Colts in getting a deal done before the start of the 2015 season are rather obvious.
- Gone are any potential distractions that could linger through the 2015 season, if Hilton was still concerned about hitting the free agency market.
- The Colts have locked up Andrew Luck's top target through the 2020 season (Rosenhaus confirmed the deal was a five-year extension at 65 million, 39 of that guaranteed).
- The Colts now have Hilton under contract before the salary cap inevitably rises in the coming years, thus raising the market value for free agents.
- As Rosenhaus pointed out on Thursday, the Colts feel the structure of Hilton's contract still allows them to keep their team together going forward.
The positives for Hilton fall in line with the Colts thinking.
- Hilton, who has rewritten the Colts receiving record book after three seasons, gets to keep on catching balls from the game's top young quarterback.
- Throughout this process, Hilton made it clear that Indianapolis is where he wanted to be, particularly for his wife and children.
- This deal places Hilton as the fourth highest paid wide receiver in the NFL (behind Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas), a spot Rosenhaus feels his client has earned after three seasons.
- For Rosenhaus, it was important to finalize the guaranteed money for a player deserving of an extension heading into a season where Hilton will make 1.5 million in his base salary.
Rosenhaus, who has done 75 extensions in the past decade, called this process a "smooth" one after the NFL super agent made three trips to the Indianapolis area to expedite contract talks.
On Wednesday evening, the Colts brass of Grigson, Director of Football Administration Mike Bluem and Vice President and General Counsel Dan Emerson sat down with Rosenhaus and his brother, Jason, to finalize Hilton's extension.
"(In February), it seemed like it was a real long shot, but I credit the organization for being open minded," Rosenhaus said on Thursday.
"It's rare to find a player like (Hilton). It's rare to draft a guy and keep him. Andrew Luck is one of the great players in the game and he and T.Y. have a special combination."
Chuck Pagano knows this.
He remembers watching film of Hilton playing against Louisville in college, where "The Ghost" had touchdown receptions of 74 and 83 yards on his first two catches.
Pagano has seen Hilton get the best of Richard Sherman, spearhead a historic playoff comeback and evolve into a Pro Bowl receiver.
"His vision is the same as this organization's vision," Pagano says of Hilton.
"To me, it's about legacy. It's about 10 years from now, 12 years from now, what do you want them to say about you? What mark do you want to leave in the organization and in the community, as a football player? I know the guy has got lofty goals and it's much more than this. It's about hoisting that (Lombardi Trophy)."