INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Castonzo has made his decision.
The veteran left tackle — and unrestricted free agent to-be — has officially announced his intention to return to the Indianapolis Colts for a 10th season in 2020, general manager Chris Ballard told reporters Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"Anthony has informed me that he will play again — which, of course, brought a big 'ol smile to my face," Ballard said. "So, yeah, we're in the process of working on that right now."
Castonzo has been a model of consistency for the Colts at the ever-important left tackle position. The team's first-round (22nd-overall) pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Castonzo has started 132 games for the Colts over the past nine seasons.
Castonzo had perhaps his best professional season in 2019. One of just two Colts players to play all 1,077 offensive snaps on the year, Castonzo ranked as Pro Football Focus' ninth-best offensive linemen in the NFL; 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.
In total, Castonzo allowed just three sacks and five quarterback pressures all season, according to PFF, and was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time in his career. He was also named to PFF’s 2019 All-Pro team as a second-team selection at left tackle.
"We think he had an unbelievable year," Colts head coach Frank Reich said of Castonzo on Dec. 30. "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."
Despite his successes, Castonzo, who turns 32 in August, expressed at the end of the season a desire to take some time to decide his future. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, but told reporters he was realistically deciding between either re-signing with the Colts or retiring.
Castonzo remained in contact with the team "pretty regularly" over the offseason, according to Ballard, who said he anticipates Castonzo's situation to be more of a "year-to-year deal" from this point on.
"I do think Anthony Castonzo's playing at a high level still. I think he's got three or more more years of high-level play at left tackle (left)," Ballard said earlier this year.
With Castonzo back in the fold, the Colts will return all five starters along the offensive line in 2020 for a second straight season in Castonzo (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Ryan Kelly (center), Mark Glowinski (right guard) and Braden Smith (right tackle).
Castonzo, Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski and Smith were able to play all 16 games for the Colts in 2019 — a rare feat for starting offensive lines in today's NFL.
"We were fortunate to have all five starters play 16 games," Ballard said today. "I mean, I know that's not going to happen every year. That's why I always talk about the six, seven, eight and nine — and even 10 — how all of them are important. But getting Anthony back and having the starting five (back), I know him and Quenton have built quite a relationship and continuity on the same side — I think all five guys have built a continuity, because I think with the O-line, I mean, it's not always about having the five best talent, but five guys that will play together. So, no, it's big for us."
Even with Castonzo back in the fold, however, the team could be exploring some new pieces of depth at both tackle positions, as Le'Raven Clark and Joe Haeg, the team's top backups at tackle the past few seasons, are both set to become unrestricted free agents in March.