Anthony Castonzo had about 43.6 million reasons for why his big smile lit up the Indianapolis Colts locker room Friday.
The offensive left tackle said simply, “It’s awesome,” in describing his four-year contract extension for a reported $43.6 million, including $35 million guaranteed.
“It’s great for me. I think it’s good for the Colts. It’s good for everybody,” the fifth-year pro said. “It was very important and I’m excited to be here for another four years at least, five years.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano admitted to not knowing the contract numbers. All he care about is the Colts have their best offensive lineman secured for a long time.
“It’s great for Anthony, his family, and well-deserved,” Pagano said. “He’s earned that. He’s a pillar guy. Again, to have that side locked up for the next whatever, four or five years, I don’t even know what it was. I don’t even know what it’s worth.
“I just know he’s worth every penny of it.”
Castonzo, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, had said contract talks wouldn’t affect his approach to the game. The first-round choice with the 22nd overall pick in 2011 reiterated the money wouldn’t change how he plays the game.
“I’ve got a great agent, Tom Condon,” he said. “I basically just said, ‘Hey, it’s all up to you. I’m focusing on playing football. I’ve got an important season ahead of me, so get it done as soon as you can get it done.’ So all the business was on his hands and I was able to just worry about playing football.
“I’m just going to go into it taking the same amount of pride in every rep that I always have. Getting paid doesn’t change at all what the game is on the field. It’s just completely separate. That kind of changes what I have in my personal life going forward, but on the field, everything is the exact same. I’m just going to go out there with the same mentality I have been.”
Castonzo, 27, has started all 60 games of his career. He takes pride in protecting the blind side of three-time Pro Bowl passer Andrew Luck.
“Yeah, it’s really a personal thing,” he said. “Like you said, I take pride in the fact that I protect Andrew’s back. When I go out there playing, it’s not just playing with my teammates, it’s playing with some of my best friends out there. That’s the other thing that’s great about being able to be here is I can be with that group of guys. You kind of go out there, you don’t just play for yourself, you play for your teammates. I take a lot of pride in the fact that they could count on me going out there on Sundays.”
His contract was the Colts’ second recent long-term commitment — during training camp last month, Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton agreed to a five-year, $65-million contract extension with $38 million guaranteed.
Castonzo has become the Colts’ offensive line anchor. His confidence has grown with each season. He understands the offense and can concentrate on his technique when battling some of the NFL’s elite pass rushers.
The Colts open Sunday at the Buffalo Bills. As before every game, Castonzo says he’ll have butterflies, an indication of what the game means to him.
As for the money, he concedes the amount is beyond comprehension.
“Yeah, it doesn’t seem really real,” he said. “It’s just the fact that it is a lot. It’s a lot, so it feels good.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.