INDIANAPOLIS – The most injury-filled season of Anthony Castonzo’s career has sent the dependable left tackle into retirement.
Despite having one year left on his contract, the 32-year-old Castonzo has decided to retire after 10 seasons in the NFL.
Castonzo released the following statement, through the Colts, on his retirement, which he announced Tuesday morning:
“As a kid, it was my dream to play in the NFL. I played my first full season of tackle football in second grade. Now I have played my last. As I sit here now, after a 10 year NFL career, I am extremely proud of all the hard work and sacrifice that allowed me to evolve that dream into a goal, and ultimately into a reality unlike anything I could have even imagined.
More than anything, I want to thank everyone who supported me along the way, especially those who believed in me during times when I did not believe in myself. So thank you to the GMs who believed in me. Thank you to all the coaches who have taught me so much in my 25 total years of football. Thank you to the fans who are so dedicated to the game we all love. Thank you to my teammates who have become friends and those who I now call brothers. Thank you to all the strength coaches, trainers, and medical staff who gave me the blueprint to build (and sometimes rebuild) myself into the best player I could be. Thanks to all the support staff who helped make my daily work experience a joyous one. And thank you to my family who is every one of these things and so much more.
I was fortunate to have been drafted by the Colts ten years ago. I was even more fortunate to spend my entire career here in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Colts is a special organization with special ownership who fill the organization with special people at every level. I truly believe this is the best organization in all of sports. I am lucky to have been able to call myself a Colt for the past ten years and will consider myself a Colt for the rest of my life.
I have given much to the game of football, but it has given me so much more. I close the book on the football chapter of my life gifted with memories and moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. So thank you, last but far from least, to football.”
In 2020, Castonzo played 12 games, which tied his second lowest amount for a single season. Injuries to his ribs, knee (sprained MCL) and ankle (which needed season-ending surgery) marred his final year in Indianapolis. On Tuesday, Castonzo said the injuries just put an ‘extra exclamation point’ on his decision, which is something he thought about during the 2020 season, not having as clear of a picture of still going through the ‘process of playing football.’ Castonzo added that he was happy he returned for the 2020 season and is leaving the game with ‘no regrets.’
Castonzo first seriously pondered retirement last offseason, before re-signing with the Colts on a 2-year deal. Even though the expectation was Castonzo would fulfill his 2-year contract, this possibility was always there, and was another reason why the Colts made a mistake last draft in not selecting a tackle.
The Colts chose Castonzo with the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 Draft, and he was a rookie starter. He started 144 career games and was this team’s annual left tackle for the past decade.
Like it should have been last year, the need for the Colts finding a tackle is a critical piece to this 2021 offseason.
Quenton Nelson’s long-term place at left tackle will be (and has been) discussed. Outside of Nelson, the move to replace Castonzo would have to come from outside the roster. Braden Smith has been too good of a right tackle to move, especially considering that he never played on the left side of the line in college.
An early look at the 2021 Draft class shows several offensive tackles with first-round grades. Of course, such a selection would then limit needs at other spots (i.e. quarterback, edge rusher, cornerback, etc).
The last player of the Bill Polian era still with the Colts, Castonzo’s legacy should be that as a dependable, consistent and above average starting left tackle for the vast majority of his decade-long career.
Arguably, Castonzo was the most indispensable Colts player in his final seasons.
While the Castonzo retirement frees $16 million in cap space, replacing him won’t be easy.
“The Colts have been blessed with many talented offensive linemen throughout our rich history and Anthony Castonzo is among the best to represent the Horseshoe,” Owner Jim Irsay said in a team statement. “For 10 seasons, Anthony consistently handled premier pass rushers at one of the toughest positions to play. He quickly developed into the leader of our offensive line and set a standard for preparation, strength and conditioning, and play. Anthony deserves a tremendous amount of credit for helping our offensive line mature into one of the best units in the NFL. He will sorely be missed, but we are so appreciative of AC’s contribution to our organization and we congratulate him on a fantastic career.”