Retirement Of Anthony Castonzo Would Create Huge Hole For Colts To Fill

Retirement Of Anthony Castonzo Would Create Huge Hole For Colts To Fill

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Retirement Of Anthony Castonzo Would Create Huge Hole For Colts To Fill

What would the retirement of Anthony Castonzo mean to the Colts? How would they try to replace that potential hole?

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INDIANAPOLIS – He’s without a doubt one of the most important free agents the Colts have had in quite some time.


Not just here in 2020 either.


And the Colts have already shown their hand when it comes to wanting Anthony Castonzo to return.


They really want (and need) that.


This decision more comes down to whether or not Castonzo wants to still play football at the age of 31, as he’s floated around the idea of retirement.


"Let me say this, I hope he does (return),” Chris Ballard says of Castonzo. “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." 


If Castonzo does indeed retire after 9 NFL seasons, finding that answer will skyrocket to a huge off-season need.


Since 2011, the Colts have known that Castonzo would be lining up at left tackle on opening day.


A retirement of Castonzo would force the Colts to use an extremely valuable resource---that probably being a high draft pick---on a new left tackle.


Free agency hardly offers any answers to a proven, still competent and long-term answer at left tackle. This year’s FA class is a bit meek, with Kelvin Beachum (30 years old), Greg Robinson (27 years old) and D.J. Humphries (26 years old), as the only true viable starting options under the age of 38, yet also having a good amount of starting experience at left tackle.


Trading for a left tackle would be a route to pursue, but convincing another team of such a move would not be easy, and it would definitely cost a premium pick.


That brings us to the draft.


At pick No. 13, the Colts are in a nice position to try and immediately address a need.


Would the Colts still be able to get one of the draft’s top tackles---a position that has had trouble instantly impacting today’s NFL with many collegiate offensive line’s differing a good amount from what the NFL is looking for in the trenches---at No. 13?


Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Andrew Thomas (Georgia) and Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) are three tackle names expected to go in Round One.


Waiting until the second round to take a left tackle could lead to more questions on how immediate of a fix that player can be in 2020.


If the Colts were to use that No. 13 pick on a new tackle of the future, it would (of course) eliminate the chance to apply a top pick at another pressing need (i.e. quarterback, wideout or defensive tackle).


Internally, the Colts have no true answers. Flipping Braden Smith, who was originally a guard in college, from right tackle to left tackle would create two question marks---at both tackle spots. Free agent Le’Raven Clark was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft, but has never panned out. Despite being healthy in 2019, Clark did not play in one game this season. Versatile reserve Joe Haeg, also a free agent in 2020, has never played left tackle in an NFL game.


To solve such a massive need, an outside move would have to come. And to find a long-term solution anywhere near the level of Castonzo, it’s likely going to take a Day One draft pick. Honestly, even if Castonzo returns, the Colts need to look long and hard at taking a tackle in one of the first three rounds.


If there’s any doubt to how Castonzo should be viewed, listen to Quenton Nelson describe what it’s like to play alongside the reliable left tackle.


“My rookie year, there was a big difference the first 5 games playing without him to when he came back,” Nelson says of Castonzo. “It’s been awesome playing next to him. He’s such a selfless guy in the way he plays. He’ll do anything to make my job easier and I just appreciate him, his work ethic, the way he comes in every day and sets a great example for a lot of the young guys on this team and we have a have young team so he sets a great example for all these guys.


“He’s a very valuable guy and I hope he comes back.”


That final sentence might be the biggest understatement of the Colts offseason.

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