Andrew Luck REtirement Stuns the NFL

By Ben Rolfe

The former number one overall pick called time on his injury-dogged NFL career

Saturday afternoon during the Indianapolis Colts third preseason game Adam Schefter broke the news that Andrew Luck would be retiring from the NFL on Sunday.

Luck later held a press conference in which he confirmed the news, citing the number of injuries he has had to deal with meaning he had lost his love of the game. His decision now leaves the Colts heading into the 2019 season with former-Patriot Jacoby Brissett under centre. Let’s take a look at Luck’s career and what this means for the Colts.

The Retirment

Luck was a player many believed would one day lift the Lombardi Trophy. Instead he left the field for what is likely the last time ever to boos raining down from the stands.

It was an ugly end for a player who has been through so much in his career. Luck then took to the podium for an emotional press conference in which he confirmed he was stepping away and that he has lost his love for the game.

Luck did not confirm anything further but speculation has risen surrounding the quarterback including Ian Rapoport reporting he wanted to travel the world with his new wife

Luck's Career

As with most players there are two parts to Luck’s career. There is the time in college when he established himself as one f the most exciting prospects to enter the NFL.Luck played three years for Stanford, throwing for 9430 yards with 82 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions. He twice finished runner up for the Heisman Award, in 2010 and 2011. Luck was expected to leave after his second season in college, but stayed for one final year to finish his studies and try and win it all with Stanford.

Entering the 2012 NFL Draft Luck and Robert Griffin III were discussed as potential number one overall picks. However, the Colts never seemed to waiver and took Luck first overall to add the exclamation point to a very impressive college career.

Luck’s NFL career has been marred with injuries, but there has been a lot of success. Four times the Colts have won double-digit games since Luck has been in Indianapolis, including his first three seasons, when they won 33 games in the regular season. Luck will leave the NFL with a 60% completion percentage, a 55-33 record, 171 touchdowns and 83 interceptions. Playing behind an at times horrific offensive line these are very impressive numbers. Unfortunately, Luck is walking away at a time where the Colts have the best offensive line of his entire career, having allowed a sack rate of just 2.7% last season.

His playoff record is somewhat disappointing. The Colts fell in the AFC Championship game in the 2014 season, losing in the Divisional round twice and the Wildcard round once. Overall Luck will end his career with a 4-4 record, but the numbers are perhaps his biggest disappointment of his career. He completed just 56.4% of his passes with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In the biggest stages Luck and his team struggled to get it done. However, making the playoffs in each of your first three NFL seasons is extremely impressive and deserves recognition.

The Contract

As with any mid-contract retirement there are always question marks about money and potential repercussions. If Luck has been planning this for a while and the Colts have been aware then these discussions have likely already taken place. Let’s take a look at Luck’s contract and what it may mean for him. 

Luck signed a new deal in 2016 and his signing bonus was due to continue being pro-rated through to 2020, at a cost of $6.4 million per year. All of the details of his contract history can be seen here at The Colts are within their rights to ask Luck to repay both years of his signing bonus that were still left to run. That means Luck could be expected to hand $12.8 million back to the Colts. This is a similar situation to when Calvin Johnson retired and the Lions demanded he pay back the money left on his contract.

As for the Colts, they have a bit of a financial black hole. Their cap charge for this year is $18.4 million and $6.4 million in 2020. The Colts are not short of cap for this season, but that $6.4 million next season might be something of a frustration.

The Colts in 2019

Luck’s retirement leaves Jacoby Brissett as the top QB on the Colts depth chart. Brissett started 15 games in 2017, going 4-11 with 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, that was behind a more than questionable offensive line. This season Brissett will play behind a much better offensive line and with an offense loaded with talent. He is no Andrew Luck, but he could be more than solid for the Colts this season. 

If you combine that with the leap this defense took last season and the Colts still have an outside chance of competing in the AFC South this season. The trouble is it took an incredible 10 wins in 11 games to put them in the playoffs last year, and that was largely on the back of Luck. Can they produce again in a  division that is fairly loaded? It is debatable, but Frank Reich s a brilliant head coach and this team is very talented on both sides of the ball.

The Colts going forward

The Colts are absolutely going to be discussed as potentially having the number one overall pick and in many ways rightly so. Brissett is a wildcard. A wildcard with a lot of talent, but a wildcard none the less. The bigger issue is that he was a very serviceable back up, but if he was to get injured then the Colts have a mess behind him. Whereas before the Colts could have survived an injury to Luck with Brissett, now an injury to Brissett ends their season.

The interesting situation for the Colts is Brissett’s contract. He is in the final year of his rookie contract. That means two things. Firstly, the Colts can evaluate him and potentially move on next year very easily. However, Brissett can earn a lot of money this season. It will be fascinating to see how the Cotls and Brissett handle contract negotiations over the next couple of weeks.

The Colts future now looks very uncertain and suddenly they are scouting QBs a lot more closely over the next two seasons. After going from Manning to Luck, could they now potentially move onto another generational talent in the 2020 or 2021 drafts? One thing is for certain this team is going to be fascinating to watch on and off the field over the next couple of seasons.

Ben Rolfe

Head of NFL Content



Image Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports