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Matt Hasselbeck announces retirement after 18 years in the NFL

Hasselbeck will start a new chapter as an NFL analyst with ESPN.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts won more games last season with Matt Hasselbeck under center than Andrew Luck. That's an astonishing number, and it was a good way for the Hasselbeck, 40, to finish his NFL career. Hasselbeck is retiring from the NFL and will join the crew at ESPN as an NFL analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.

The Colts' defense of their "AFC Finalist" banner got off to a wretched start in 2015, losing two of their first three games before Luck went down with a shoulder injury prior to Week 4. The Colts won their next two contests against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans with Hasselbeck in the starting lineup, but then he returned to the bench for five weeks. Indy went 1-3 over its next four contests after the Jacksonville game, at which point Luck became sidelined with a lacerated kidney. He also played through a previously unreported rib injury at different points last season as well.

Hasselbeck's performance slipped in the second half of the year, especially during Weeks 13-15. Over those three games, he only completed 53.75 percent of his passes and posted a 71.8 QB rating. Hasselbeck suffered a left arm injury against the Jaguars Dec. 13 and was banged up the rest of the way. He didn't start in the season finale.

Given Hasselbeck's age, it's fair to surmise the final three games of last year are more indicative of his skill level at this point than what he did earlier in the season. But still, the boost he provided the Colts when Luck originally went down kept them in the playoff race until the end of December.

Hasselbeck said the opportunity presented to him by ESPN helped solidify his decision to retire.

"The exceptional opportunity presented to me by ESPN accelerated my decision to retire from playing football," Hasselbeck said. "I'm excited for the chance to give everything I have to this new endeavor and share the knowledge I have with our viewers."

Hasselbeck will join his brother, Tim Hasselbeck, who has been an analyst with ESPN since 2008 and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. Nine-time Pro Bowler Charles Woodson, who also retired from the NFL following the 2015 season, is also joining ESPN as an analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.

After being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft, Hasselbeck was the backup to Hall of Famer Brett Favre. After being traded to the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2001 season, Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XL bid over his 10-year tenure in Seattle. Hasselbeck was named to the Pro Bowl in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He joins Favre and Warren Moon as the only NFL quarterbacks in league history to win four consecutive starts after their 40th birthdays.