In a league as fast-moving and unpredictable as the NFL, few events ever truly come as a shock. The sudden and surprising retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck over the weekend was an absolute stunner.
Luck's retirement, in and of itself, isn't that surprising. The Stanford product has been plagued by injuries over the last few seasons and appears to be dealing with another significant one—a somewhat mysterious lower-leg issue.
At some point, health and quality of life have to trump competitive desire.
It was the way that things unfolded on Saturday night that felt surreal.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Luck planned to retire while Indianapolis was involved in a preseason contest against the Chicago Bears:
Once the news was out, there was no putting a lid on it. Luck was essentially forced to announce his retirement in a post-game press conference. According to Nick Veronica of NBC Sports and the Buffalo News, Luck had planned to tell teammates after the game and address the media on Sunday.
With Schefter having already broken the news, however, Luck had little choice but to move up his public announcement. The question many fans now have is this: If Schefter knew for certain that Luck was going to retire before it was announced, how long did the Colts know?
"Rumors flew that they knew since March, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote. "The team privately insisted that they found out only this week."
According to Peter King of NBC Sports, Luck kept his decision relatively private, only telling new Indianapolis starter Jacoby Brissett on Friday.
"Luck, who kept a very small circle about his decision, told Brissett on Friday that he was quitting," King wrote. "Brissett, I hear, was upset because he's grown close to Luck, even though the decision meant the young quarterback would have his chance to pilot a playoff team with lots of young talent."
Per King, the Colts front office only saw Luck's retirement as a certainty after a meeting with the quarterback last Monday.
So while the Colts may have had an inkling that Luck could retire, it appears that they didn't know he would retire until last week.
The other question fans will have: Will Luck stay retired?
This is a difficult one to answer. Luck cited injuries and a loss of love for the game during his announcement. A year or so from now, those injuries may be gone, and Luck may get the itch to take the field once again. He's only 29, and we saw last year that Luck is capable of playing at a high level after a lengthy absence.
According to Schefter, Indianapolis will not try to recoup any of Luck's signing bonus. This leaves the door open for an amicable reunion if Luck does eventually mount a comeback. So, yes, it's possible he may return. Right now, though, it doesn't feel likely.
The Colts aren't going to have Luck in 2019. Elsewhere, there's a chance that the NFC South rival Houston Texans won't have star defender Jadeveon Clowney, who was given the franchise tag this offseason.
Trade speculation has surrounded Clowney for most of the offseason, but it's really starting to ramp up with the regular season on the immediate horizon.
According to NFL Network's Michael Lombardi, a trade is likely to come soon.
"He doesn't have a contract, so he's got to sign the tender before they trade him, I think that's almost a fait accompli, he will get traded in the next 24, 48 hours, I would be shocked if he didn't," Lombardi told Patrick Meagher of Sirius XM (h/t Thomas Lott of Sporting News).
Teams are certainly interested in trying to acquire him. At least 10 have shown interest, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and The Athletic (h/t Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald).
With Miller now out, it's possible that a team with a surplus of running backs could deal one—along with a couple of high draft picks—and pry Clowney away from Houston before the start of the regular season.