Longtime Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo announced his retirement in January, leaving Indianapolis with a major hole to fill this offseason. The team did add Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport on modest free agent contracts, but neither player profiles as a particularly appealing Castonzo replacement.
That has led to some chatter that the Colts could move all-world left guard Quenton Nelson to left tackle, given that it’s generally easier to find a quality LG than a quality LT. But in a recent radio interview on 107.5 The Fan (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star on Twitter), team owner Jim Irsay said the team will ideally keep Nelson right where he is and bring in a left tackle from outside the organization.
One of the top options that was available this offseason, Orlando Brown, was recently traded from Baltimore to Kansas City, and it’s unclear if the Colts were one of the handful of teams that had contacted the Ravens about a potential Brown deal. It’s also unclear if they are one of the teams that are monitoring the market for former Chiefs LT Eric Fisher.
Luckily for GM Chris Ballard, this year’s draft offers plenty of quality tackle prospects. Although it’s not always ideal to start a rookie LT on a team that has championship aspirations, the presence of Nelson will go a long way towards helping that rookie start living up to his potential right away. And if the draft does not yield a player that profiles as an immediate blindside protector for new QB Carson Wentz, Ballard could circle back to a player like Fisher or former Steeler Alejandro Villanueva (though Villanueva is presently expected to sign with the Ravens as a Brown replacement).
Nelson, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2018 draft, has earned First Team All-Pro honors in each of his three professional seasons. Ballard will soon exercise Nelson’s fifth-year option for 2022 — which will guarantee the Notre Dame product just shy of $14MM — but look for player and team to at least discuss an extension long before the 2022 season gets underway.
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