The Jonathan Taylor saga will end not with a bang but a whimper. The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t find a taker for their embittered running back before the NFL‘s Tuesday cutdown deadline. Instead, Taylor will remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list into the regular season, meaning he’ll be required to miss at least the first four games of the year.
Colts Do Not Trade Jonathan Taylor | What Comes Next?
Technically, Taylor can still be traded while on the PUP list. But if the Colts couldn’t find an offer they deemed fair over the past week, they probably won’t locate a team willing to give them what they want for him now that he’s guaranteed to miss a quarter of the season.
As many as six teams were believed to have expressed interest in Taylor once Indianapolis gave him permission to seek a trade. But the Miami Dolphins may have been the only club to engage in serious trade negotiations.
Despite the animosity between Taylor and the Colts, he seemed unlikely to be moved.
The veteran running back market ground to a halt this offseason. Multiple players — like Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon — were forced to accept pay cuts. The Los Angeles Chargers couldn’t find a taker for Austin Ekeler despite his production and modest salary. And Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt remain on the free agent market.
The Colts’ demands — believed to be a first-round pick or a package equal to that value — always seemed like something of a paradox. Indy wasn’t willing to offer Taylor an extension before his rookie contract expires next spring, but they also wanted other teams to sacrifice significant draft capital to acquire the 24-year-old.
The equation never made complete sense.
The Colts can still move Taylor until the NFL’s Oct. 31 trade deadline, but his health situation likely needs to be cleared up first. Taylor is on PUP as he recovers from an ankle injury, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the RB is likely suffering from “contract-itis.”
If Indianapolis holds onto Taylor through the season, they could potentially franchise tag him in 2024 and then attempt to trade him again. However, if he remains on PUP all year, his contract would toll, tying him to the Colts next season and setting up even more drama.
Colts’ RB Depth Chart
The Colts waived running backs Jake Funk, Kenyan Drake, and Jason Huntley this week, leaving them with three RBs on their roster: Zack Moss, Deon Jackson, and fifth-round rookie Evan Hull.
Moss is probably the favorite to lead Indy in carries, but he suffered a broken arm at the end of July and may not be ready for Week 1.
In that case, Jackson and Hull would likely compete for touches over the first few weeks of the season, while the Colts might have to search for another running back on the open market.
What Is the Fantasy Football Impact?
Analysis submitted by Fantasy Analyst Jason Katz
The situation between the Colts and JT seems to be nowhere near a resolution. I’m not of the belief that Taylor’s ankle injury is just a façade for a holdout — I believe his ankle is legitimately still a problem.
The Colts were unable to find a suitable trade for Taylor. As a result, he remains on the team. It’s important to note the Aug. 29 deadline was self-imposed — not a real deadline. Taylor can still be traded at any point up until Week 6.
With that said, unless Taylor does get traded, I truly believe he won’t play a snap for the Colts this season, and I’m approaching my remaining fantasy drafts under that premise.
Taylor has fallen all the way to my RB31. I just don’t want the headache. Let someone else deal with a guy guaranteed to miss the first four games of the season and, unlike someone like Alvin Kamara, not guaranteed to return at all.
As for what the Colts will do at running back, it will likely be an undesirable committee of Jackson, Hull, and Moss once he returns from injury. The Colts are also a candidate to sign Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette.
If one of them signs, I’d be interested enough to put in a waiver claim. But for now, you can take a shot on any one of the three guys on the roster in the double-digit rounds.