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Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis retires at age 26

Matt Johnson

Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis is retiring, walking away after three seasons in the NFL and less than a month before training camp begins.

Willis entered the league as a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, selected with the 104th overall selection out of Michigan State. He saw immediate playing time as a rookie, playing 620 snaps for the Colts’ defense and made a strong impression on the coaching staff.

  • Khari Willis career stats: 161 solo tackles, 11 pass deflections, 7 quarterback hits, 3.5 sacks

After starting in 9-of-14 games in his first NFL season, Willis became a full-time starter in 2020 and recorded a career-best 65 solo tackles and passes defended (six). He also scored the lone touchdown of his career on a pick-six.

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Willis returned in 2021, once again playing an important role in the Colts’ secondary. The 5-foot-11 safety started 10 games, recording 1.5 sacks and matching his career-high with two interceptions. Now, a month after turning 26, he is stepping away from football. Moving forward, he is focused on ministry.

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The Colts shared Willis’ retirement announcement, with head coach Frank Reich praising his contributions to the team and locker room.

“We’re thankful and appreciative of Khari’s contributions to the Colts both on and off the field over the last three seasons. Khari’s character, leadership, and professionalism will be missed in our locker room as will his play on Sundays. I admire and respect his decision to transition into the next stage of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him.”

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich on Khari Willis

As Willis heads into the next stage of his life, Indianapolis must make changes in the secondary. Losing a key piece of their defense, the Colts will rely on 2022 third-round pick Nick Cross to step into a much larger role than expected.

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