The Indianapolis Colts have given running back Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
The news arrives amid an ongoing standoff as Taylor has unsuccessfully sought an extension to his rookie contract, which expires at the end of the upcoming season. With the two sides in a stalemate, Taylor reportedly requested a trade during a July meeting with owner Jim Irsay, a request that Irsay denied.
“We’re not trading Jonathan … end of discussion,” Irsay told MMQB’s Albert Breer via text July 29. “Not now and not in October!”
With the season approaching, Irsay’s stance on trading Taylor has reportedly shifted. It’s not immediately clear if the Colts have engaged in trade discussions with other teams.
Taylor tried and failed to secure long-term contract
Taylor, 24, is scheduled to make $4.3 million this season on the final year of the four-year, $7.8 million contract he signed as a rookie in 2020. He earned All-Pro honors and led the NFL in rushing with 1,811 yards on 5.5 yards per carry in 2021. His production dipped amid an injury-impacted 2022 season that saw him tally 861 rushing yards on 4.5 yards per carry in 11 games.
Taylor is seeking a long-term contract with a significant pay increase after he exceeded the terms of his deal with his 2021 All-Pro campaign. He’s doing so amid a deteriorating market for veteran running backs that has produced multiple contract disputes this summer.
Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley initially declined to sign a franchise-tag tender from the New York Giants while seeking his own long-term deal. He eventually signed a one-year contract worth up to $11 million to play for the Giants this season.
Reigning NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs has held out of training camp while seeking a long-term deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders instead offered him a franchise-tag tender. Per a Monday report, Jacobs is expected to end his holdout in time to report for Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. He isn’t eligible to sign a multiyear contract after a deadline passage and would play either under the $10.1 million franchise tag or on a negotiated one-year contract.
Irsay stokes flames on social media
Some of the league’s top running backs, including Taylor, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, have publicly lamented the state of running back pay in the NFL. Irsay responded on social media in July, tweeting that agents pushing running backs to seek new negotiations were doing so in “bad faith.”
Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, responded on social media by saying that Irsay isn’t paying his “top offensive player.”
The public back-and-forth preceded the meeting between Taylor and Irsay in which Taylor reportedly requested a trade. Taylor has reported to Colts training camp but has not participated, as he has remained on the physically unable to play (PUP) list. Taylor started training camp on the PUP list after undergoing offseason ankle surgery.
The Colts don’t have a clear Week 1 starting running back in the event that they trade Taylor. Taylor’s backup, Zack Moss, is starting the season on the sideline due to a fractured arm. Kenyan Drake, Jake Funk, Deon Jackson, Evan Hull and Jason Huntley currently sit behind Moss on the Colts’ depth chart.
Drake is the most experienced of the bunch. The 29-year-old tallied 482 yards on 4.4 yards per carry in 17 games with the Baltimore Ravens last season.
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