NFL Draft analysts have as many as four offensive tackles coming off the board in the first round this April.
If Chris Ballard was thinking about using his 13th pick on one, he might have just changed his mind.
Anthony Castonzo opted to put off retirement for now.
Anthony Castonzo informs Colts he's playing https://t.co/B1Uilzz8U9
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) February 25, 2020
He never considered playing for another team even though he is a free agent next month.
Instead, the Indianapolis Colts and Castonzo are working on a new contract.
Indianapolis had the good fortune of playing the same five linemen in all 16 games last season.
Barring a preseason surprise, all five will start again in September.
Getting Better With Age
Castonzo comes off what was arguably his best season as a pro.
The 31-year-old (he´ll be 32 before next season) was graded as the 7th-best tackle by PFF.
He had a career-low 2 penalties while playing all 1077 offensive snaps for the Colts.
He was tabbed as an alternate for the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
Anthony Castonzo has been such a joy to watch this season. Absolutely deserved the Pro Bowl Alternate nod he got the other day. This is textbook on how to handle a speedy, twitchy pass rusher in Harold Landry. Stands him up on the bend and stops his momentum easily pic.twitter.com/jxYZ6QHx4u
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 18, 2019
Castonzo is the elder statesman and the unofficial leader of the offensive line.
Left guard Quenton Nelson and Castonzo have built a relationship, as have the rest of the linemen.
As Ballard told ESPN, “With the offensive line, you don´t have to own the 5 most talented players.”
“(It´s) having 5 guys that will play together.”
How Might Castonzo Change Ballards plan?
Neither Ballard nor Castonzo speculated on how long his new contract will extend.
Castonzo had been relatively durable, missing only 12 games in 9 seasons.
Indianapolis might feel better about drafting Jordan Love or an edge rusher in the first round.
But they can´t ignore Castonzo´s age or the need to replace him eventually.
I definitely expect Anthony Castonzo’s deal to be high priced but have roster bonuses every year that trigger after a time he would decide to return, leaving no dead money behind.
— Kyle Rapoza (@ColtscapKyle) February 25, 2020
There are enough good tackles further down the draft to use a third- or fourth-round pick on one.
Washington´s Trey Adams or Ezra Cleveland out of Boise State are big bodies who could fall to middle rounds.
If any of the top 6 tackles are still on the board, Ballard could be tempted to grab one in the second round.
But at least Ballard can be confident enough that he doesn´t have to fill the left tackle spot immediately.
That should preclude using any of his cap space on a starting lineman.
What Can Colts Fans Expect From Castonzo in 2020?
Anthony Castonzo missed parts of three seasons with three unrelated injuries.
An ankle injury cost him four games in his rookie season.
Castonzo missed three games with a knee sprain in 2015 and five more with a hamstring in 2018.
He started every game he played since the opening game of his first season.
— IndyStar Sports (@IndyStarSports) February 26, 2020
Indianapolis hasn´t worried about their quarterback´s rear over the last five or more years.
With his experience and the experience of the players around him, the Colts don´t expect any regression.
Castonzo seems excited to return.
His rejection of free agency shows he bleeds Colts blue.
Indianapolis appears to be in great shape along their offensive line for 2020.