Attrition is always a concern in the third week of the NFL pre-season schedule. But generally it’s injury that is the fear, not the shocking retirement of your franchise quarterback.
Andrew Luck’s announcement after Saturday night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears will reverberate through the NFL all season, especially in Indianapolis.
Following a 10-6 season in 2018, the Colts were positioned to join Kansas City as one of the biggest threats to the New England Patriots in the AFC. But now they’re back in the land of the unknown, where they were in 2011, when Peyton Manning’s neck injury turned the quarterback position over to Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.
The Colts went 2-14 that season, which positioned them to land Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. He made them into an instant contender and had bounced back from a shoulder injury in ’17 to have arguably his best season last year, with a career-best 98.7 quarterback rating and 71.5 ESPN total quarterback rating.
Yet Luck hasn’t been on the field this season because of an ankle injury. He was on the sidelines at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night when ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted he planned to retire, with an announcement scheduled for Sunday.
The news shocked fans, some of whom booed Luck when he walked off the field.
Luck confirmed his decision after the game in an impromptu news conference, sounding exhausted by the battle to keep himself healthy enough to play.
This is not an easy decision,’’ Luck said. “Honestly, it’s the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it’s be unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football.’’
Luck knew his decision wouldn’t be popular even before he was booed by his home fans.
“I’ve come to the proverbial fork in the road, and I made a vow to myself that if I ever did again, I’d choose me, in a sense,’’ Luck said. “It’s very difficult; I love this team, I love my teammates, the folks in our building, the folks in this building, the fans, the game of football, and as part of this team, as a member of this team, and because of how I feel, I know that I am unable to pour my heart and soul into this position, which would not only sell myself short but the team in the end as well. … It’s sad, but I have a lot of clarity in this.’’
Luck retires having carried the Colts to a 53-33 record in the regular season, with 23,671 passing yards and 171 touchdowns. He has a 73.4 quarterback rating in the postseason, passing for 2254 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games, including losses to the Chiefs, Patriots (twice) and Ravens.
Luck had earned just over $97 million since leaving Stanford for the NFL. According to Spotrac, his retirement will cost him $64 million over the three years left on his contract, including a $6-million roster bonus he was due next month. The Colts will be hit with a $24.8-million dead cap hit, split as $18.4M in 2019 & $6.4M in 2020.
Jacoby Brissett, a third-round pick from North Carolina State in 2016, was held out of Saturday’s game. He is expected to replace Luck as the Colts’ regular quarterback, as he did in 2017.