The Indianapolis Colts failed to trade superstar running back Jonathan Taylor despite granting him permission to seek one. There was rampant speculation that Taylor would be traded prior to last Tuesday’s mid-afternoon deadline as teams trimmed their rosters down from 90 to 53. It paints a somber picture regarding Taylor’s market.
The Colts didn’t receive a fair-value offer in exchange for Taylor, by their definition, according to widespread reports. Because a trade didn’t materialize, Taylor will remain on the Colts’ physically unable to perform list (PUP), making him ineligible for a minimum of four regular-season contests. The former Wisconsin standout may not be traded during the 2023 campaign at all.
The Colts’ next-best opportunity to trade Taylor could occur in mid-to-late October while approaching the NFL trade deadline (Oct. 31). That begs the question: Would the Colts even receive an intriguing offer? They’d retain little-to-no leverage through such trade negotiations due to a hard deadline. If the Colts were dissatisfied with the current offers for Taylor, it’s difficult to imagine those offers for Taylor improving near the deadline. It’s worth acknowledging the Carolina Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey at the deadline last season, so everyone will retain hope to find a last-ditch solution.
The Colts and Taylor could instead be heading toward a season-long standoff. Taylor is entering a contract season that will pay him a base salary of $4.3 million in 2023, per Spotrac. Taylor is understandably disgruntled. Colts general manager Chris Ballard could opt to utilize the franchise tag on Taylor at the conclusion of the campaign while trying to trade him again during the offseason.
It’s not shocking that a trade failed to come to fruition. Running backs are arguably experiencing the worst market value in recent memory when relatively compared to other positions around the league. The Colts’ reported asking price in exchange for Taylor includes a first-round selection. Taylor is allegedly seeking a multi-year extension in the neighborhood of $15 million annually.
It’s no surprise that competing franchises refused to pay that price. Just take a look around the league. Both Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs refused to sign the franchise tag with their respective clubs before agreeing to separate one-year contracts that granted them the potential to earn slightly more than the tag figure via performance-based incentives.
No running back signed a contract in unrestricted free agency worth more than $6.2 million annually (Miles Sanders in Carolina). The Colts’ expectation to receive premium draft capital, and then for Taylor and his representation to expect a top-of-the-market-multi-year extension made all parties involved unrealistic. They brought their current conundrum on themselves.
The Miami Dolphins were among the most interested but were scared off by Indianapolis’ rich asking price. These are the same Dolphins that balked at Dalvin Cook‘s financial requests earlier this offseason only to see him turn around and sign with their rival New York Jets. And that negotiation didn’t include parting with draft selections. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier didn’t go outside his comfort zone to acquire Taylor.
The Colts’ running-back unit in Taylor’s absence consists of veterans Zack Moss and Deon Jackson, and rookie Evan Hull. It’s arguably the least impressive room in the league. Hull could receive an opportunity to establish himself as the lead back. There isn’t a murderer’s row of competition standing in his way.
The Colts didn’t receive compensation as the relationship with their superstar former rushing champion continues to creep toward unsalvageable territory. Taylor’s market value isn’t increasing on the sidelines. Nobody’s winning in Indianapolis.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023