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What If Anthony Castonzo Does Retire?

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts are facing an extremely important off-season this year. Not only due to the major question mark at the quarterback position but also because of the huge uncertainty surrounding Anthony Castonzo. Castonzo shocked Colts fans earlier in the offseason by revealing that he was mulling over whether to retire or to continue playing. He is due to be a unrestricted free agent this year and is currently deciding whether to return for his 10th NFL season or not. While most fans and the Colts staff are hoping he will return there is still a real possibility he doesn’t. Therefore, the Colts NEED to have a plan if the worst does happen and Castonzo retires.

In House Options

The Colts currently have no viable answers to replace Castonzo on the active roster. Le’Raven Clark is Castonzo’s current backup, but he is set to be a free agent and has shown nothing to indicate that he has the potential to be a starting tackle in the league. Joe Haeg is the Colts utility man along the offensive line, but again, he is also set to be a free agent. Haeg has played well in the league since being drafted but his good play has been at guard or right tackle and not on the left. The Colts could re-sign Haeg and plug him in at left tackle but that would likely be a last ditch option if all else fails.

Free Agency

The Colts could look into free agency to replace Castonzo, signing a left tackle from another team. The upcoming left tackle market looks barren at best and it’s not all that surprising, as good left tackles rarely hit the market. The top quality players will either get re-signed or franchise tagged. However, there still are some options in free agency.

First, Andrew Whitworth from the Los Angeles Rams. Whitworth has been a franchise left tackle for almost his whole career and has been one of he top tackles in the league over that time. Whitworth, however, is 38 years old, and last year his age showed in what was a decline in play for him. In 2019, he allowed 29 total pressures (one sack) and 14 penalties, combined with his worst pass blocking grade (via PFF) since 2011.

Next we have Kelvin Beachum from the New York Jets. Beachum had to earn his start at left tackle early in his career, but since being named a starter he has not looked back. Beachum started his NFL career off with the Pittsburgh Steelers before leaving in free agency for the Jacksonville Jaguars only to leave a year later for the New York Jets. Beachum is 30 years old, so not that old by NFL standards, and was drafted in 2012 so has 8 years of experience. He has seemingly been a middle-tier left tackle throughout his career, allowing at least 3 sacks and at least 20 total pressures every year he’s started at left tackle.

Finally, there is Jason Peters from the Philadelphia Eagles. Peters went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft before being signed by the Buffalo Bills. He spent his early playing time at blocking tight end before breaking through at right tackle. It was 2007 when he finally moved over to left tackle, and he's been on the blindside ever since. Peters was traded by the Bills to the Eagles for a first-round pick and more in 2009 and has been with the Eagles as their franchise left tackle ever since. Peters has been a household name in the top left tackles in the league for over a decade, but he is now 38 years old and injuries are starting to become more frequent. In the last three years, Peters has played in 36 games out of a possible 48, missing a total of 12 games. Peters has also ruptured his Achilles’ tendon, torn his ACL and torn his MCL all in the last five years.

The NFL Draft

The draft appears to be the best and most likely avenue to replace Anthony Castonzo as the Colts have plenty of options to choose from when picking a left tackle to mould into their franchise blindside blocker. This year's draft has an abundance of talent at the tackle position, and at least four sure-fire first-rounders. The Colts have a problem here, as they have another huge hole at quarterback. If Castonzo does retire and the team doesn’t sign a left tackle in free agency, they will have to decide which position to upgrade in the 1st round (if both are available). With the left tackle position being so important, drafting a tackle in the 1st round should absolutely be in play if Castonzo retires.

Top tackle prospects: Andrew Thomas (Georgie), Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) and Mekhi Becton (Louisville)

Trade Option

Chris Ballard always preaches that he will look into any means of acquiring talent to upgrade the Colts roster. One way the Colts could replace Anthony Castonzo is by acquiring a left tackle via a trade. The only problem with trading for a player is the compensation the team sends for the player. Trading for a left tackle isn’t going to be cheap.

One potential trade option could be Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins. Williams was very vocal about how unhappy he was with the team in 2019 and reportedly asked to be released/traded but it never happened, so Williams refused to play. Williams is a top tier left tackle in the league and has been in the Pro Bowl 7 times in his career. It was reported around the trade deadline that Washington was looking for a early round draft pick as compensation for Williams. If the Colts were going to try to trade for him, they would probably have to send over their first second round pick.

Another possible trade option is Cordy Glenn from the Cincinnati Bengals. Glenn has already been traded recently as he was sent from the Buffalo Bills to the Bengals for a swap of first-round picks and more. However, the year after Glenn was traded, the Bengals picked tackle Jonah Williams from Alabama to be their left tackle, and Glenn was pushed inside to play guard. Glenn did still play left tackle last year as Williams suffered a season ending injury. Glenn is a very solid left tackle. He only allowed 10 total pressures (4 sacks) in the five games he played in last year. Glenn last started all 16 games in 2018, and allowed 36 totals pressures (just 2 sacks) and posted a solid pass blocking grade (via PFF). Glenn would likely be more of a stop-gap solution at left tackle than a franchise left tackle. Trading for Glenn would allow the Colts to focus early draft picks towards other needs (such as quarterback) but still leave the door open for a more long term solution to left tackle. Glenn would likely require trade compensation in the form of a mid round pick.