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INDIANAPOLIS – Do not remove that picture of T.Y. Hilton on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium anytime soon.

The love the Colts have for Hilton (finally) matched the dollars, with the two parties continuing a marriage that will extend into another decade.

On Wednesday afternoon, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Hilton would re-sign with the Colts on a 1-year deal for $10 million. The Baltimore Ravens reportedly had interest in offering more money for Hilton.

While Hilton was looking forward to experiencing free agency for the first time in his NFL career, and the Colts had to do their due diligence in seeing what the wide receiver market was like in 2021, The Ghost returning for a third contract in Indianapolis always had momentum.

Just ask the higher-ups.

“We’d love to see T.Y. back, there is no question about it,” Jim Irsay said earlier this offseason. “He is such a great Colt. What a competitor and still has excellent skills and can take over a game…

“When all is said and done, I’m really hoping that it works out that we can work something out and Chris (Ballard) can work it out with T.Y. and his agent and we find a way there because we are a better football team with T.Y. and we love him as a legacy player and as a present player in how he can help us get to where we want to go. He is a great veteran leader and still has plenty of gas in the tank.”

Carson Wentz and the Colts will find out how much gas is left in the 31-year-old’s tank.

Earlier this week, Frank Reich commented on how Hilton is “as instinctive as a receiver there is” even if he is no longer in his prime.

Hilton rebounded in 2020 to stay healthy (played 15 of 16 games), but he didn’t sniff a 1,000-yard season (762 yards) and averaged just 3.7 catches per game.

Despite this year’s free agency class having notable depth at wide receiver, and several young options who could offer similar production, and perhaps more potential down the road, the Colts viewed the need to bring Hilton back as a priority.

Playing in a contract year in 2020, Hilton stated several times that his goal for free agency was to return to the Colts, and eventually retire with the team that drafted him in the 3rd Round of the 2012 Draft.

How signing just a 1-year deal, at the age of 31, impacts that remains to be seen.

Even though Hilton’s season last year was down in the stats department, connecting on the deep ball with Philip Rivers hindered some of those numbers.

Wentz’s arrival should offer a better chance at succeeding in that aspect of the pass game.

And Hilton remaining part of the wideout group lessens a bit of the burden youngsters Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell will carry into this coming season. Zach Pascal should be back in 2021, too.

Like Reich said above, Hilton isn’t the same player a decade in his career, but he still means a whole lot to the Colts. Hilton has missed 11 games in his career. The Colts are an ugly 1-10 in those games, including scoring a season-low 10 points in a home loss to Baltimore last year.

The individual numbers might not be at the same level, but Hilton still is a key, key piece for steading the wideout group.

It took some time, but The Ghost is staying right here in Indianapolis.