INDIANAPOLIS — Jonathan Taylor’s days with the Indianapolis Colts might be numbered.
The team is willing to listen to trade offers for their disgruntled star running back and have given him and his agent permission to seek offers, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
However, there are several dynamics working against a relocation for Taylor.
The Colts are seeking at least a first-round draft pick for the NFL’s 2021 rushing champion, or compensation that includes multiple picks equivalent of a high selection.
They aren’t interested in simply ridding themselves of the 24-year old Taylor for a mid-round draft pick even though their 2020 second rounder has made it clear he isn’t interested in remaining in Indy.
Then, there’s another, arguably larger hurdle that would have to be cleared.
Even if a team is willing to part with a first-round pick, it probably would have to satisfy Taylor’s request for an extension. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract that carries a $4.3 million base salary in ’23, and undoubtedly wants an extension that would reflect his status as one of the league’s top backs. That might be a contract averaging $13-15 million per year.
Finally, Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing with a franchise-record 1,811 yards in 2021, remains on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) while completing his rehabilitation from surgery on his right ankle.
Failing a trade, it will be interesting to see how the Taylor situation is handled with the NFL-mandated cutdown to 53 players on Aug. 29. If the Colts are convinced Taylor is healthy enough to play and he still refuses, it’s conceivable they could suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team.
They took that extreme measure in the early 1990s with another star running back, Eric Dickerson.
It’s hard to imagine any team making a strong push for a player – even one of Taylor’s ilk – who has insisted he isn’t healthy enough to practice. He last stepped on the field Dec. 17 against the Minnesota Vikings, but the high sprain to his right ankle limited him to two plays. The previous week at Dallas, Taylor rushed 21 times for 82 yards.
Taylor was placed on the injured reserve list for the final three games and underwent surgery on the ankle on Jan. 25. He was expected to be fully recovered for the start of training camp, but that didn’t happen.
The decision to entertain trade offers for Taylor comes two days after Irsay addressed his running back on the FOX59 broadcast during Saturday night’s preseason game against Chicago.
“We’re excited to have Jonathan back,’’ he said. “I know these things are always difficult. I respect any time people are trying to fight for their position, for their families and all those things.
“I’ve been around it so long, I just think the biggest thing that I preach is, ‘OK, timing is everything.’’’
As far as possible trade compensation, consider what the Carolina Panthers received from San Francisco before last season’s October trade deadline: second-, third- and fourth-round picks in the 2023 draft, and a fifth-rounder in ’24.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.