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INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Irsay feels confident that the most important free agent his team has had in years will be returning in 2020.

The owner reiterated that on more than one occasion during a pre-Combine press conference on Sunday afternoon.

While there’s nothing officially to report on Anthony Castonzo returning to the Colts, Irsay believes that will happen in the coming weeks.

“We hope, and think, that we’ll get something done with Anthony Castonzo,” Irsay said on Sunday afternoon.

When asked specifically if Castonzo has told the Colts he wants to keep on playing football, after the left tackle brought up that possibility following the end to the 2019 season, Irsay said the following:

“I haven’t talked to Anthony personally, but he’s a Pro Bowl left tackle and we want him to come back. I think there’s a strong likelihood that he will, but I think Chris (Ballard) will have more on that in the coming weeks.

“I’m hopeful.”

Ballard will meet with the media Tuesday at the Combine in what will be a very busy week for the general manager.

Among normal Combine duties pertaining to the 337 prospects in Indianapolis, this week is also a time for top personnel people around the league to meet with agents of their own free agents.

Castonzo is unquestionably atop the Colts’ FA list this offseason.

“Let me say this, I hope he does (return),” Ballard said of Castonzo last month. “I hold Anthony Castonzo in high, high regard. It’s a shame that (this is) the first time he’s even been voted as an alternate to the Pro Bowl. Since I walked in the door, Anthony Castonzo has played at a really high level at left tackle. I can’t believe people are just now starting to recognize it.

“Anthony and I will be in touch here over the next two or three weeks, and he’ll make a decision. I know this, Anthony loves the Indianapolis Colts, he loves being here, so we’ll see what decision he makes. And, if he decides to retire, then it’s our job to find an answer.”

Well, based off Irsay’s comments on Sunday, the Colts feel like the ever important Castonzo will be coming back for a 10th NFL season.

Castonzo, 31, was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and his decision this offseason is vital to the Colts maintaining strong play at left tackle.

If Castonzo has informed the Colts he wants to keep playing, the next hurdle is what that new contract will look like, as both sides carry some leverage into those talks.

Free agency officially starts on March 18th, so the Colts have a little more than 3 weeks to get a deal done with Castonzo, before he hits the open market.