INDIANAPOLIS — For Anthony Castonzo, it's time to take a step back and consider his options.
Fresh off perhaps the best season of his nine-year NFL career, the Indianapolis Colts' left tackle said Monday, the day after the team wrapped up its 2019 season, that he is going to take some time to decide his future — not only with the Colts, but in the NFL.
Set to become a free agent in March, Castonzo certainly isn't ruling out a return to Indy, but he revealed he also isn't ruling out the possibility of retirement with his age-32 season on the horizon.
"I've just got some thinking to do," Castonzo said. "You know, that's what it's going to come down to — it's going to be a decision that I make, and then you live with it."
Castonzo met with general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich on Monday before officially getting started on his offseason. Reich later told reporters the Colts will give Castonzo the time he needs to make his decision; they'd be elated if he chose to return for a 10th season in Indy in 2020, however.
"We just made no bones about it: 'We want you as our left tackle. We are going to respect you and your decision to think about what you want to think about, but there is no one else we envision being our left tackle,'" Reich said of his conversation with Castonzo.
Selected by the Colts with the 22nd-overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Castonzo has been a model of dependability and consistency at a critical position year after year, having started at left tackle for 132 of a possible 144 games over that span.
Castonzo was able to take his game to new heights in 2019. He was one of two Colts players (alongside right guard Mark Glowinski) to play all 1,077 offensive snaps on the year, and he was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time in his career.
According to Pro Football Focus, Castonzo was ranked as the ninth-best offensive lineman in the NFL in 2019; his pass-blocking grade of 81.3 was 13th best among all qualifying offensive linemen, and sixth among tackles, while his 70.2 run-blocking grade ranked 23rd among linemen and eighth among tackles.
The left tackle is counted on to protect the quarterback's blindside, and Castonzo more than held up his end of the bargain in that area in 2019; he allowed just three sacks and five quarterback pressures all season, according to PFF.
"We think he had an unbelievable year," Reich said. "I think he is the best left tackle in the league, I really do. I mean, I think this guy is a stud player. I think he had his best year of his career and I am looking forward to hopefully getting him back. But he has not shared anything with me about what he is going to decide or how he is going to process through that decision.
"We all need a little space," Reich continued. "It's an emotional year."