The Indianapolis Colts were hit with devastating news when left tackle Anthony Castonzo revealed he would be retiring when the 2020 season concluded.
The announcement came as a surprise to seemingly the entire organization as Castonzo enjoyed an extremely productive campaign, earning a superb 80.8 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, all the while conceding just two sacks and two penalties across 749 offensive snaps.
That efficiency indicated Castonzo would play out the duration of the two-year extension he inked last offseason, but it evidently wasn’t enough to convince him to put his body through another grueling campaign after he underwent season-ending ankle surgery in December.
Among their laundry list of priorities, this news means the Colts are forced to find a new left tackle.
Luckily for them, however, there figures to be no shortage of viable options, whether it be through the trade market, free agency or the draft.
With this in mind, fans will love hearing that 49ers reporter Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes that Indianapolis is a real threat to sign Trent Williams, arguably the best LT of the last decade or so, in free agency.
The Colts should look to sign free agent LT Trent Williams this offseason.
If you take a quick look at Barrows’ concerns about the 49ers’ ability to re-sign Williams, whom they acquired via trade from Washington at the end of last offseason, it’s easy to see why he thinks the Colts are in pole position to come out on top in the race for his services.
"“If I’m the 49ers, I’m most worried about the Colts. They seem to have the combination of salary-cap space (currently fifth-most in the league) and realistic playoff aspirations of all the potential suitors. Williams also would line up next to All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and, of course, the state taxes in Indiana aren’t nearly as high as they are in California.”"
It goes without saying that Williams will be one of the most sought-after left tackles once free agency opens up, so general manager Chris Ballard better be prepared to get uncomfortable and enter a bidding war, which he’s been outspoken against ever since he took the job in 2017.
However, given that the eight-time Pro Bowler would arguably make the Colts’ offensive line stronger than it was with Castonzo locking things down (which says a lot), we can’t think of a reason for Ballard not to push the envelope to sign him.
For any fans concerned if signing Williams would sabotage Indianapolis’ efforts to land a superstar receiver, don’t be. Chances are he isn’t looking for a long-term deal, so the Colts and their $50 million in cap space could easily get away with offering him between $15-20 million annually.
It’s obviously easier said than done, but if the Colts truly believe they’re ready to compete for a championship, they can’t afford to settle for second-tier players in free agency.
Signing Williams would all but confirm that Carson Wentz will be working behind the clear-cut best offensive line in the league, and we all know how deadly the former No. 2 overall pick is in a clean pocket compared to when he’s under constant pressure.