The end of each NFL season means a lot of activity for teams who are not preparing for a playoff game. The front office of each franchise goes back to the drawing board and starts planning for the future and that future is contingent on the team’s players — who are forced to decide how they want to handle their own futures.
Colts long-term starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo will be 32 years old when the 2020 NFL season kicks off and is in line for a lucrative multi-year deal after one of the best seasons in his career. He is playing on the best offensive line of his career and on a young team where he is one of the unquestioned leaders.
It is surprising then, to learn today, that Castonzo is seriously considering retirement.
Anthony Castonzo just told us he is weighting his football future and he option include... not playing beyond this season.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) December 30, 2019
Colts LT Anthony Castonzo is not ruling out the possibility of retiring this offseason. He’s scheduled to be a free agent if he doesn’t retire— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) December 30, 2019
Anthony Castonzo weighing 2 options.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 30, 2019
1- keep playing
Sounds like #2 is definitely in play
The timing of these developments seems odd.
There is no doubt that Andrew Luck took a beating early in his NFL career and suffered injuries and long-term recoveries that would drive anyone to seriously consider quitting. However, he also saw a new General Manager join his franchise who brought in an offensive minded head coach and a steadfast determination to improve the offensive line in front of him.
In 2018, Luck was hit and sacked less than he was earlier in his career by a considerable margin and didn’t have to use his legs as often as he escaped a collapsing pocket. After missing an entire season to recover from a shoulder injury and the resulting surgery, Luck had one of the best statistical seasons of his career and earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.
A week before the start of the 2019 season. With nothing else changed, other than new offensive weapons provided through free agency and the draft and an emerging defense who should take some of the pressure off of his shoulders on Sundays, Luck announced his decision to retire from the NFL.
Fast forward to today, the franchise still has its needle pointing in a positive direction. Perhaps there is now a question at the most important position on the field, in part due to Luck’s unexpected early retirement, but how does it make sense on a team like this, with a locker room that is reportedly so close, that Castonzo would seriously consider leaving the game of football while he is still squarely in his prime and playing next to arguably the best offensive guard in football?
Fans are left to hope that Castonzo will quickly move on from entertaining retirement. Fans are left to hope that Chris Ballard, armed with more cap space than he could possibly need, can keep the nucleus of a special offensive line in tact. If not, the needle for the team’s future gets shakier.
As of this writing, the Colts need to figure out their long-term plans at quarterback, their plans at wide receiver and tight end (with Eric Ebron set to hit free agency), need to continue finding ways to address the pass rush, and could use more help in the secondary. Adding starting left tackle to that list, another premium position where high first round picks often land the best talent, would not be helpful.