The Indianapolis Colts have given running back Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Indy isn’t interested in giving Taylor an extension before his rookie contract ends next spring, but Colts owner Jim Irsay had also previously indicated his club would not trade the 2021 All-Pro.
That stance has evidently changed — but that doesn’t mean Taylor will necessarily be moved. Why could trading Taylor be difficult for the Colts, and what teams might be interested in acquiring him?
Colts Allow Jonathan Taylor To Seek a Trade
Taylor was arguably the NFL’s best running back in 2021 when he led the league in attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. Most teams would love to acquire that level of production, but Taylor’s allure is now clouded by his potential contract demands, acquisition cost, and murky injury situation.
Taylor is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from an ankle injury. However, Schefter suggested last week that Taylor is actually suffering from “contact-itis,” hinting the 24-year-old would be on the field if he had a new deal in hand.
Colts have given All-Pro RB Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade, per league sources. Other teams now are weighing whether to make an offer to the Colts and what would be fair value. pic.twitter.com/AT7GgJGLAQ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 21, 2023
The running back market has tanked, but Taylor could still theoretically be targeting an annual value of at least $12 million, a figure that only four RBs — Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Nick Chubb — currently hold.
And the Colts might be looking for the same sort of trade package that the Panthers received from the 49ers in exchange for CMC last year: second, third, and fourth-round picks next year, and a fifth in the following draft.
Will any team be willing to accept all that risk? We doubt it, but at least a few teams could potentially inquire about Taylor.
The Dolphins were heavily linked to Dalvin Cook while he was a free agent, but the ex-Viking ultimately signed with the division-rival New York Jets.
Does that mean Miami could be interested in Taylor? Maybe, but not necessarily.
Cook wasn’t going to cost the Dolphins anything but cash and cap space. Even then, they weren’t willing to match the $7 million he received from New York.
Taylor is an entirely different story. When Miami general manager Chris Grier has traded draft assets, he’s done so at premium positions. Grier was willing to move up for wideout Jaylen Waddle in the 2021 draft, and he sent a first-round pick to the Denver Broncos for pass rusher Bradley Chubb at last year’s deadline.
But when the Dolphins needed RB help last season, did Grier try to land a big-ticket item? No — he sent a fifth-rounder to the 49ers for Jeff Wilson Jr., who was already familiar with head coach Mike McDaniel’s scheme.
Miami can get by with some combination of Wilson, Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane, Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed. With a potential extension for Tua Tagovailoa right around the corner, the Dolphins don’t need to commit to paying a running back, even one of Taylor’s caliber.
The Bears ran the ball at a higher rate than any team in the league last season, and the idea of pairing Taylor with Justin Fields in the same backfield is incredibly tantalizing.
Still, Chicago already has two capable veteran backs in holdover Khalil Herbert and free agent addition D’Onta Foreman. They also spent a fourth-round pick on Texas’ Roschon Johnson, who has already started to earn looks with the Bears’ first-team offense.
Chicago still has $16 million in cap space and projects to have more than $85 million available in 2024. They can clearly afford Taylor if they want him.
But Chicago also has potential extensions for players like Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, and Jaylon Johnson coming down the pike. If Fields thrives in 2022, the Bears will also look to extend his contract over the offseason.
General manager Ryan Poles is rebuilding this roster from the ground up — sending multiple picks for the right to pay a high-priced RB probably doesn’t fit that plan.
There simply aren’t many teams around the NFL with even a semblance of an opening on their RB depth chart. That leads us to the Commanders, who spent third-round picks on Antonio Gibson in 2020 and Brian Robinson Jr. in 2022 but could still afford to add a back.
But frankly, trading multiple picks for a running back in need of an extension sounds like something Washington would have done during Daniel Snyder’s tenure. In fact, it sounds like the kind of move Snyder might have forced his front office to execute.
Maybe new team owner Josh Harris would be interested in making a personnel splash by acquiring Taylor. But the best way for Harris to ingratiate himself to Commanders fans is by fielding a winning team.
If we’ve learned anything from recent RB transactions, it’s that sacrificing significant assets or cap space for a running back is not the way to turn a franchise into a regular contender.