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Cowboys' Updated WR Depth Chart After T.Y. Hilton's Free-Agent Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 12, 2022

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - OCTOBER 15: Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on the sidelines during the college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and Nebraska Cornhuskers on October 15, 2022, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly signing a veteran wide receiver for the stretch run.

It's just not the one you think.

After weeks of speculation that Odell Beckham Jr. would end up with the NFC East team, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Jane Slater reported Monday that Dallas is signing former Indianapolis Colts pass-catcher T.Y. Hilton.

Hilton won't be the No. 1 option like he was during his prime on the Colts, but he figures to see playing time as part of the following wide receiver depth chart:

  • WR 1: CeeDee Lamb
  • WR 2: Michael Gallup
  • WR 3: Noah Brown
  • WR 4: T.Y. Hilton

While Lamb, Gallup and Brown will remain important parts of the aerial attack, no other wide receiver on the roster has more than 24 receiving yards. That leaves plenty of room for Hilton to carve out a role, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him cut into Brown's playing time if he performs well in the immediate aftermath of this move.

Hilton's resume includes four Pro Bowl selections and five different seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards, including when he led the league with 1,448 yards through the air in 2016.

The Florida International product was a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and he played his entire career with the Colts before they chose not to re-sign him this past offseason.

He appeared in 10 games last year with 23 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns, so it is unrealistic to expect the 33-year-old to immediately rediscover his dominant form from when he was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

But he doesn't have to play that role for a Cowboys team with no shortage of offensive weapons at Dak Prescott's disposal. The running game is strong with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, and tight end Dalton Schultz is a capable playmaker as well.

As long as Hilton can take advantage of the spacing created by the attention Lamb and the running backs draw from opposing defenses, he can help the 10-3 Cowboys parlay their impressive regular season into a deep playoff run.