Indianapolis’ conversion to a younger team continued Friday when longtime offensive lineman Ryan Diem announced his retirement on Twitter.
The 32-year-old Illinois native apparently informed team owner Jim Irsay of his decision Friday morning, before both men took to social media to spread the news.
”It’s been a heck of a ride… Time for a new chapter. I am retiring! ” Diem wrote.
He started 150 games in 11 seasons with the Colts, most at right tackle.
During that time, Diem became a favorite of Peyton Manning. The bond was so tight that when Manning took less money to stay with the Colts than Irsay offered last July, the team used its savings to bring back Diem and running back Joseph Addai, two players Manning thought would be key to the Colts’ success.
Now, none are with the team.
Manning was released March 7, two days before he was to be paid a $26 million bonus to stay in Indy. That made Manning a free agent, and he signed Tuesday with Denver.
Addai was one of five players released in a cost-cutting move two days after Manning’s release, and now Diem has retired.
”ColtFans,met with Ryan D,big(hash)71 in ur hearts n program,yesterday;he is going 2 retire,raise those new twins,we wish him happy alumnus status,” Irsay wrote.
It’s yet another move in a major offseason overhaul for the Colts.
After Manning missed the entire 2011 season following a series of neck surgeries, Indy went a league-worst 2-14 and wound up with the No. 1 overall draft pick. It is expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with that choice.
The sudden collapse immediately put the Colts, one of the league’s model franchises for more than a decade, into rebuilding mode.
Indy is essentially starting over. Irsay cleaned out the front office, replaced coach Jim Caldwell with Chuck Pagano and got rid of most of Caldwell’s assistants.
But the biggest moves have come in just the past few weeks with the release of Manning and the subsequent decision to cut Addai, defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt, tight end Dallas Clark and backup quarterback Curtis Painter. Indy also lost starting receiver Pierre Garcon to Washington in free agency.
Diem’s departure could give the Colts as many as seven new offensive starters next season.
”Thanks for the opportunity, Mr. Irsay! The last 11 years have been unbelievable, and I appreciate every minute of it,” he wrote.
The Colts took Diem as a fourth-round draft pick in 2001. The Northern Illinois alum started eight games his rookie season at right guard, then became a regular at right tackle until moving back inside last season.