The Indianapolis Colts have put together a competitive team in the two seasons since Andrew Luck abruptly retired from football.
But they have a hole at the game’s most important position following this season’s considerably less stunning retirement of Philip Rivers. Colts owner Jim Irsay has a name in mind for replacing him.
‘We’d love to have him be our quarterback’
“He knows how much we’d love to have him be our quarterback, there’s just no question about that,” Irsay said of Luck on Wednesday, per the Indianapolis Star.
That decision, of course, is not up to Irsay. It’s up to Luck, who has provided no public hints that he’s thinking of a return to the NFL at 31 years old. And Irsay isn’t counting on it. He’s just stating the obvious while planting a seed.
“We know for it to work out, he has to be the one that says, ‘You know what? I’m ready,’” Irsay continued. “I want to really create a little bit of history, in unprecedented aspects.”
Colts are a QB away from contending
After 2019’s 7-9 campaign in the wake of Luck’s sudden preseason retirement, the Colts bounced back as a force in the AFC with an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2020. They built a top-10 defense around one of the game’s best young defenders in linebacker Darius Leonard. They fielded a balanced, top-10 offense with a declining 38-year-old Rivers behind center.
If Luck is considering a comeback, the Colts are an enticing opportunity.
And perhaps, most important when it comes to Luck, they’ve built one of the game’s best offensive lines, a unit anchored by All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson that Pro Football Focus rated as the league’s seventh best in 2020.
Would Luck consider an NFL return?
Luck didn’t retire out of any animus for the Colts. He retired after six seasons because he was tired of the constant pounding his body took playing behind a generally porous protection.
“For the last four years, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab. Injury, pain, rehab,” Luck said during his 2019 retirement announcement. “And it’s been unceasing, unrelenting — both in-season and offseason. And I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football.”
The irony of the Colts finally putting together a competent line after Luck retired is not lost here.
Irsay’s generous gesture toward Luck
Irsay’s made no secret of his desire for Luck to return. He left the door wide open in 2019 with a generous gesture upon Luck’s exit. The Colts allowed Luck to walk away with $24.8 million in bonus money they could have fought to recover upon his unexpected retirement.
Irsay referenced at the time Michael Jordan’s decision to return to basketball less than two seasons after his abrupt retirement in 1993. He joked Wednesday about watching for an “I’m back” fax from Luck.
Now he’s singing Luck’s praises, and letting him know that the door remains wide open.
“He’s a great Colt and he knows that he can come back any time he wants, but at the same time, we respect that he’s made that decision.”
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