After 10 years as the team's starting left tackle, responsible for protecting the blindside of quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, and most recently Phillip Rivers, Anthony Castanzo has decided his days of playing football at the highest level are over as he announced Tuesday he is retiring from the NFL.

The decision shouldn't come as much of a surprise to Colts fans as Castanzo contemplated the idea of retirement at the conclusion of last season before ultimately deciding to return. While he didn't specifically reference injuries in his statement on the Colts website, one has to think they played into his decision. Castanzo saw this season cut short after an ankle injury suffered in practice ahead of the team's week 16 game in Pittsburgh ended up requiring season-ending surgery forcing him to miss the team's regular season finale at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and their Wild Card Round loss to the Buffalo Bills last Saturday. Before that, he suffered a MCL sprain during the team's match up against the Tennessee Titans in week 12.

Over the course of his decade with the team, he played a full 16 game schedule six times, and never played less than 11 games in a season, a remarkable feat considering the wear and tear a player at his position goes through between the near constant squatting into a three-point stance before the ball is snapped to springing up a quickly as possible to try and keep a 250 to 300 pound human being from smashing your quarterback into the ground.

His retirement now leaves a sizable void in the team's offensive line they'll need to address in the offseason, as Castanzo was consistently one of the highest graded players at the left tackle position by Pro Football Focus over the course of his entire career. Whether they address that through free agency, or the upcoming NFL Draft April 29th through May 1st is yet to be seen. The good news is, by making his announcement now, Castanzo has given the team a good amount of time to weigh their options and decide the best course of action.

You can read Castanzo's full statement, as well as statements made by team owner Jim Irsay, General Manager Chris Ballard, and Head Coach Frank Reich about what he brought to the team over his 10-year career on the Colts website.

[Source: Colts.com]

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