The Indianapolis Colts failed to trade Jonathan Taylor before their self-imposed Tuesday deadline, but we know they received interest from multiple teams. The Miami Dolphins were widely connected to a potential Taylor deal, but they weren’t the only club that contacted the Colts about the disgruntled running back.
The Green Bay Packers were also involved in Taylor discussions, as ESPN’s Stephen Holder reported on Tuesday. Given that the Packers already have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in their backfield, why were they interested in Taylor, and could Green Bay continue to make offers as the season progresses?
Why the Packers Were in on Jonathan Taylor
Assuming Taylor would come off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list upon being traded, he would give the Packers the best running back room in the league. Taylor, Jones, and Dillon would combine to form an RB depth chart that’d be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the NFL.
Of course, that’s assuming Green Bay would have kept all three backs on its roster.
Had the Packers acquired Taylor, they would have likely considered trading either Jones or Dillon to another team. Plenty of clubs still need running back help after Tuesday’s roster cutdown deadline, and Green Bay could have found a suitor for one of their holdover RBs.
Dillon might have been the odd man out because he has something of an overlapping skill set with Taylor. Jones’ ability as a receiving threat would have made him a more natural complement to Taylor.
Even if the Packers planned to keep all three backs, a trade for Taylor might have still made sense.
Jones accepted a pay cut this offseason and looks like an obvious release candidate next spring. If Green Bay designates Jones as a post-June 1 cut, they’ll save $11.5 million against the cap while taking on $5.7 million in dead money in 2024 and $6.6 million in 2025.
Meanwhile, Dillon is scheduled to become a free agent after the upcoming season. With Taylor on board, the Packers wouldn’t have had to worry about re-signing him.
Can the Packers Still Trade for Taylor?
Although the Colts wanted to find a taker for Taylor by Tuesday, nothing prevents Indy from keeping him on the trade block. However, Taylor would stick on the PUP list even if traded, so acquiring clubs would have to be comfortable with him missing at least the first four games of the season.
Financially, rostering all three of Taylor, Jones, and Dillon wouldn’t present a problem, especially if Taylor kept his 2023 salary at its current rate ($4.3 million).
Combined, Taylor, Jones, and Dillon would collect just $6.7 million in cash this season. That would rank 20th in the NFL in 2023, according to Spotrac. Meanwhile, those three backs would account for roughly $14.2 million on Green Bay’s salary cap this year, the fourth-most in the league.
But is a midseason Taylor trade actually feasible? Based on what the Colts were requesting from the Dolphins, maybe not.
Indianapolis made “wild requests” from Miami, including wide receiver Jaylen Waddle “and more,” as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.
Waddle is a 25-year-old former first-round wide receiver who’s posted nearly 2,400 yards and 14 touchdowns through his first two NFL campaigns. He’s under contract at cheap rates for two more years, while the Dolphins also hold an affordable fifth-year option for 2025.
There is no scenario on Earth in which Miami would give up Waddle in exchange for Taylor, and it’s borderline embarrassing that the Colts even asked. If Indianapolis hopes to get that sort of return for Taylor, they won’t find a suitable offer on the trade market.