INDIANAPOLIS — In a surprising development, Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis announced his retirement Wednesday on social media.

“With much prayer and deliberation, I have elected to officially retire from the NFL as I endeavor to devote the remainder of my life to the further advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Willis said in a statement posted by his Instagram account.

The Colts were quick to wish Willis luck in retirement on Twitter.

The team released the following statement by head coach Frank Reich:

“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.”

The 26-year-old played just three seasons in the NFL after Indianapolis selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. He was an immediate contributor who started nine games as a rookie. In all, Willis started 33 of the 39 games he played for the Colts and racked up 219 total tackles, 4 interceptions and 3.5 sacks.

The Colts’ offseason moves have well positioned them to deal with the loss of Willis. The team signed veteran safety Rodney McLeod — who has started 123 games in 10 seasons — and traded up in the third round of April’s draft to select safety Nick Cross out of Maryland.

Additionally, news has been encouraging for safety Julian Blackmon, who started 20 of 21 games for the Colts before he tore his Achilles in October. Blackmon was seen participating in practice during the Colts’ minicamp and said he can “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow the Colts Blue Zone on Twitter @ColtsBlueZone.