Truly shocking news, as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Schefter reports there will be a press conference on Sunday to formally announce the news. He writes that Luck “is mentally worn down, and now checking out.”
To say this is stunning news would be a massive understatement. In a separate tweet, Schefter writes that Luck has already met with Colts owner Jim Irsay to tell him of his decision. Luck has been dealing with a mysterious calf/ankle injury, although it wasn’t thought to be serious. The latest reporting indicated that the Colts were still hoping Luck would be ready for Week 1.
Indianapolis had known for “at least two weeks” that Luck was seriously considering retirement, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While the news apparently didn’t completely catch the organization off-guard, it doesn’t make it all that much easier to swallow for them.
In one of the most unprecedented moves in recent league history, Luck will be hanging up his cleats at the age of 29. There will be endless discussion in the coming days about what caused him to step away, although injuries are obviously part of it. Luck was plagued with a shoulder injury that lingered for a couple of years and ended up costing him the entire 2017 season. The process was mentally exhausting and always shrouded in secrecy, but he eventually worked his way back onto the field for the start of last year.
He made a triumphant return to Indy, leading them to wins in nine of their last ten games to sneak into the playoffs. He helped the Colts topple the Texans in the first round of the playoffs before they fell to the Chiefs. The team has a lot of good young talent and made major strides under head coach Frank Reich last year.
They were expected to be a Super Bowl contender heading into 2019 and were one of the most buzzed about teams this offseason. Luck’s lower leg injury was starting to get concerning due to the limited information available, but obviously nobody ever saw this coming. With Luck stepping away, Jacoby Brissett will now take over as the team’s starter.
Brissett is widely regarded as one of the league’s best backups, so things could be worse for the Colts. The team has been expressing confidence in Brissett all offseason, which in hindsight might’ve been foreshadowing this news. After being acquired in a trade with the Patriots, Brissett started most of the 2017 season for Indy. He finished with 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, making his situation all the more interesting.
Luck’s retirement is obviously a huge boost to the rest of the AFC South, and he was 11-0 in his career against the Titans. The Colts will still have a chance to be competitive given Reich’s coaching and Brissett’s competence, but it’s hard not to see this as removing them from the list of AFC contenders.
Even with Brissett in tow, the Colts will likely be in the market for a veteran quarterback now. Their only backups are Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly, and neither has ever attempted a regular season pass. Kelly is also suspended for the first two games of the season, so he won’t be able to backup Brissett until Week 3.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what Luck will do now in his post-playing career. Given his young age, there will surely be rumors of a comeback for as long as he stays retired. Luck was apparently on the field at the Colts’ preseason game when the news broke, casually chatting with teammates, according to a tweet from Stephen Holder of The Athletic.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.