Late for Work 3/26: T.Y. Hilton Says He Was 'Five Seconds Away' From Signing With Ravens

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Colts WR T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton Says He Was 'Five Seconds Away' From Signing With Ravens

T.Y. Hilton said he very nearly became a Baltimore Raven two days ago before ultimately deciding to re-sign with the Indianapolis Colts.

During an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" yesterday, the veteran wide receiver confirmed reports that the Ravens made a strong push to sign him and said they came oh-so-close to succeeding.

"Five seconds away," Hilton said.

Hilton, who has played his entire career (nine seasons) in Indianapolis, said last month that the Colts told him they'd like to have an opportunity to match any offer he gets on the free-agent market. They didn't match what the Ravens offered, according to Hilton, but it ended up being good enough.

"I got on the phone with [Colts General Manager Chris Ballard] and I was like, 'Are we going to get this done? How can we get this done?'" Hilton said. "He came up with a number and I was like, 'All right, I guess it's meant for me to go to this next team.'

"As soon as I closed his message, [Colts Owner Jim] Irsay texted me, and I said, 'There goes my sign right there.' When he texted me, that's when we got it done."

Hilton's one-year deal with the Colts is reportedly for $10 million, with $8 million guaranteed. The Ravens reportedly offered a multi-year deal for more guaranteed money. It always seemed that Hilton's preference was to stay with the Colts.

"What he gave up from the Baltimore Ravens was significant," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. "They made a really hard run at him."

Early Wednesday afternoon, Hilton cryptically tweeted a bunch of eye emojis. A little more than an hour later, he tweeted that he had re-signed with the Colts.

Hilton told McAfee that the eye emojis were in regard to the Ravens making a significant effort to lure him away from Indianapolis.

"I was almost gone," Hilton said. "I'd been talking to [the Ravens] the whole time. They came in and made a great push at the end. They wanted to get it done."

Not So Fast on Narrative About Ravens and Free-Agent Receivers

As noted in yesterday's Late for Work, Hilton's apparent decision to take less guaranteed money to stay in Indianapolis rather than sign with the Ravens added fuel to the notion that receivers don't want to play in Baltimore's run-heavy offense.

A week earlier, JuJu Smith-Schuster reportedly turned down a bigger offer from the Ravens before signing a one-year deal to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At this point, however, the narrative about the Ravens and free-agent receivers is speculative. Like Hilton, Smith-Schuster made it known that his first choice was to remain with the only NFL team he has ever played for.

"Unfortunately, there's not a clear answer to the question," Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote. "Very few players will ever publicly say why they turned down an offer, especially if there's a chance at a pairing in the future. In this case, both Hilton and Smith-Schuster played it as cool as they could, focusing more on their current teams and how big of an offer Baltimore gave them over their reasoning for rejecting it."

Could the fact that the Ravens throw the ball less than any team in the league have been a factor for Hilton and Smith-Schuster? Sure, but that also could be an over-simplification.

Stevens noted that the decisions by Hilton and Smith-Schuster to accept one-year deals to re-sign with their respective teams could be due in part to a historically low free-agent market thanks to the salary-cap reduction.

"Think about it this way: If you're a free-agent wide receiver and you want to make the most money possible next season, you're going to want to sign with the team that gives you the best chance of putting up a career-best year," Stevens wrote. "Would that be the place you've been your entire career, with a coaching staff and teammates that know how to maximize your potential? Or would you rather make a little more money for a year but have to uproot your entire life and family to move states away and play in an offense that throws the fewest passes in the NFL? The answer is pretty obvious."

Stevens added: "It is a concern that Baltimore hasn't been able to land a wide receiver yet. … But I also think this is a unique offseason that no one really knows how to handle, and it's unfair to judge a team or player for how they're trying to navigate it."

Ravens-Titans Ranked As 2021's Best Rivalry

The Ravens-Steelers rivalry has arguably become the best in the NFL over the years, but it's not the league's best rivalry in 2021 in the opinion of NFL.com's Adam Rank. He put the Ravens-Tennessee Titans rivalry at the top of his list.

"This is one of my favorite rivalries in the NFL right now," Rank wrote. "The only bummer is, they aren't scheduled to play — at the moment. The teams have traded wins in the past two postseasons. Gimme a playoff rubber match next January!

"Ravens-Titans is one of those rare occasions where it feels like a big-time rivalry, even though the teams don't play in the same division. But this matchup screams announcer cliché: 'These teams don't like each other.' I want to see more of it."

There was tension during the regular-season meeting between the teams last season when Head Coach John Harbaugh took exception to a group of Titans players gathering on the Ravens logo during pregame warmups. The Ravens followed it up by celebrating on the Titans' logo during the final minutes of their Wild-Card victory.

On a side note, Rank placed the rivalry between the Steelers and Cleveland Browns right below Ravens-Titans.

"The Steelers have played some epic games against the Ravens over the years, no doubt about it. Pittsburgh even swept Baltimore last season on the way to an AFC North title," Rank wrote. "But lately, it feels like the Steelers' games vs. the Browns have become more of a blood feud."

Carlos Dunlap Reportedly Re-Signs With Seahawks

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Carlos Dunlap has re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Rapoport.

It had been reported earlier this month that the Ravens, who are believed to be in the market for a proven pass-rusher, were one of several teams interested in signing the 32-year-old veteran.

Dunlap was released a few weeks ago by Seattle in a cost-saving move. His deal is reportedly for two years, $16.5 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed.

The top remaining free-agent pass-rushers include Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram and Aldon Smith.

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