Indianapolis Colts starting safety Khari Willis, 26, announces his retirement after three seasons in the NFL

Indianapolis Colts starting safety Khari Willis, 26, announces his retirement after three seasons in the NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts start safety Khari Willis announced Wednesday that he is retiring after three seasons in the NFL to pursue a future at the ministry.

“With much prayer and thought, I have made the decision to officially retire from the NFL as I strive to devote the rest of my life to continuing to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Willis, 26, wrote in an Instagram post . “Thank you to all my family, friends and everyone who has supported me on this journey so far and I look forward to your continued support in the next phase of my life.

“I am both humbled and excited to follow the sacred call that God has for my life which is bringing me much joy and purpose. Thank you all for your support over the years…”

Willis, a fourth-round pick in 2019, became the team’s strong starting safety halfway through his rookie safety. He finishes his career with 219 tackles and four interceptions while starting 33 of the 39 games he has played in.

“We are grateful and appreciate Khari’s service to the Colts over the past three seasons, both on and off the field,” coach Frank Reich said in a statement. “Khari’s character, leadership and professionalism will be missed in our dressing room as much as his game on Sunday. I admire and respect his decision to move on to the next phase of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him.”

The Colts had already looked at the safety position during the offseason. They signed veteran Rodney McLeod in free agency and picked Maryland’s Nick Cross as the 96th overall pick in this year’s draft. McLeod likely has the inside track to start in Willis’ place, with Cross being the predicted long-term starter there.