Matt Hasselbeck may not be ready to call it a career quite yet.
The 40-year-old former Seahawks quarterback told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” that while he hasn’t entirely made up his mind, he’s “strongly leaning towards” coming back in 2016 for what would be his 18th season in the NFL.
That doesn’t take into account his first season, which he spent on Green Bay’s practice squad. After almost two decades in the NFL, including the last three seasons with Indianapolis, Hasselbeck said he still feels good physically. He acknowledged, though, that his decision won’t depend on his health alone. He indicated that his family will be another consideration – Hasselbeck and his wife have three children – and noted how playing in the NFL is a significant commitment, even for a backup quarterback.
“I haven’t really, I guess, made up my mind completely on it,” he said. “You’ve got to decide that you’ll be ready to go for all the other stuff. It’s a commitment. If you’re a football player, you start back up April 18. It’s a grind. You’ve got to give it everything you’ve got, you’ve got to be all in, you’ve got to realize there are going to be injuries, it is going to be a physical game, you’re going to get hit in the head a bunch.
“Even for me, likely being a backup, you’ve got to have the mindset that you might have to start – or get to start – 16 games and then some. So you’ve kinda got to count the cost of what it would mean, what you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying no to. My kids are getting older. But all in all, I would say I’m strongly leaning towards playing again, and we’ll see.”
Hasselbeck will be an unrestricted free agent after playing on a one-year, $3 million contract last season.
Indianapolis has been his second stop since leaving the Seahawks after the 2010 season. Hasselbeck spent 10 years with Seattle, during which he set the Seahawks’ career passing-yardage record and led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance. He spent two years in Tennessee and has backed up Andrew Luck in Indianapolis for the last three.
Hasselbeck was the Colts’ starter for eight games last season while Luck was sidelined with injuries. He went 5-3 in those starts, with one victory coming while he was dealing with a bacterial infection that had sent him to the hospital days earlier. Before last season, Hasselbeck hadn’t started a game since 2012.
“It was great. It was fun,” he said of starting. “I felt awesome actually for probably the first four or five games. It was just a blast to be in the huddle again. I had a lot of fun.”
His illness last season notwithstanding, Hasselbeck considers himself lucky to have stayed relatively healthy during his career, saying that he’s only had one surgery. Asked if a factor in his decision on whether or not to continue playing will be the long-term health issues associated with head injuries, Hasselbeck said, “I think it factors in. I don’t feel anything like that. I don’t have any symptoms.”
He added: “I guess I am aware of what research is coming out and that kind of stuff. But like I said, I feel great and I play a position where I’m not covering kickoffs, I’m not breaking up a wedge and those kinds of things. So I feel good about it.”