It looks like the Colts have reached a point of no return with Jonathan Taylor. After initially turning down the All-Pro team’s trade request, the team has now reportedly turned it down. If Indianapolis gets a rejected offer on the table, it will likely be the end of Taylor’s days with the franchise.
Indeed, it appears that there are suitors approaching the Colts family about getting Taylor. However, it will come down to the price. Indy is reportedly seeking a first-round pick versus Taylor, which seems a bit pricey especially considering any team acquiring Taylor will also likely need to give him an extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. .
But let’s put aside all those nitty-gritty details of how the deal was built and fast-forward to what seems like an inevitable trade. What’s next for the Indianapolis backcourt as they enter this new era with first-year head coach Shane Steichen and rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, already named starters for Week 1?
Allow us to run through different scenarios.
Next guy up approach?
What if the ponies do nothing? There is a scenario where the club replaces Taylor with venture capital and then just merges him with players currently on the roster, sprinkling in a number of passes designed for Richardson. Although this scenario may seem unlikely given the options available on the free proxy market, it is at least worth mentioning.
As things stand, Deon Jackson, Zac Moss, rookie Evan Hull, Kenyan Drake, Jake Funk and Jason Huntley are the defenders off Taylor’s Indy roster. Moss is currently recovering from a broken arm and his first week’s condition is currently in the air, but he should be a factor in that backfield for the better part of the year. Moss was acquired by the Colts last season in a trade with the Bills and has averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in eight games for the club down the stretch. That includes a stellar performance in the regular season finale against the Texans in which he rushed for 114 yards and touchdowns on 18 carries.
Beyond Moss, Drake is the most experienced on the list. He appeared in 12 games (five starts) for the Ravens last season and rushed for 482 yards on 109 attempts (4.4 average). There’s certainly a question of how much Drake has left in the tank (he’s on his fourth team in as many seasons) but he can be a nice veteran in the backfield, especially with a rookie quarterback. Hull, a fifth-round selection from Northwestern, could serve as a pass-catching option for the Colts after hauling in 88 balls over his last two college seasons.
Again, this isn’t an ideal scenario for Indy, but there is a path for the Misfit Island support plan to be an option.
However, it only works effectively if Richardson is truly the “back commander” of this group, which isn’t out of the question. Steichen comes after spearheading an Eagles offense that saw Jalen Hurtz lead all quarterbacks in rushing attempts with 165 in 2022. Of those rushes, 95 of them were on engineered runs, according to TruMedia. That’s 21 more designed rushing attempts than the next quarterback last year, so the coach is certainly willing to draw plays for his quarterback if he has that skill set, which Richardson does. The #4 overall pick is 6’4, 245 pounds, and ran 4.43 40 yards in NFL Scout Association.
Free agent goals
We can present this within the most likely path the Colts would go down if they shipped Taylor for a pick. Even if they wanted to deploy Richardson on tailored runs, they couldn’t give him the traditional fullback workload given how important he is to the team’s prospects after 2023 as the team’s starting midfielder. Therefore, more bodies must come aboard.
In fact, there are two free agents to watch: Karim Hunt and Leonard Fournette.
Hunt visited the Colts earlier this summer, however. However, should the club move from Taylor, it would become a very attractive destination for any free-back with north of 200 players suddenly up for grabs. Hunt is still only 28 years old and doesn’t suffer from tire wear as much as the regular linebacker entering his seventh year in the league. That’s thanks to his work as a secondary pick in the backfield for Cleveland behind Nick Chubb for the past four seasons. Hunt can give the Colts a boost that can not only serve as a pure runner, but he can also be a reliable pass catcher with 211 receptions on his resume.
As for Fournette, he provides similar versatility to Hunt as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He started nine games for Tampa Bay last season and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, but still managed to catch 73 of his 83 targets for 523 yards on his way to his second straight 1,000-yard season from scrimmage.
Both of these running backs shouldn’t have a huge price tag attached to them and would immediately raise the Colts’ backfield ceiling in the wake of Taylor’s potential trade.
Can the Colts get an RB in a Taylor trade?
The Miami Dolphins were a team. They’re also a side with their fair share of defenders already on the roster, albeit without the cap Taylor would bring. While getting as much investment capital as possible should be GM Chris Ballard’s main priority, he should also look at some Miami rushing players and see if he can get one throw-in.
Specifically, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. would be veterans worth asking about. They are right in the middle of what Indianapolis can add in free agency and what they already have on their roster. Mostert has tremendous speed and is coming off the 2022 season rushing for 891 yards on 4.9 yards per carry. He also had 31 catches for 202 yards. His age will be the main concern since he’s 31, but he’s a cheap option with a base salary of just $1.165 million for 2023. The same logic applies to the 27-year-old Wilson, who earned a base salary of $1.08 this year.
However, the swing move for the fence would be to somehow knock out third-round rookie Devon Ashani from Miami. Acane would do much better with the youthful direction the Colts are heading in and can grow alongside Richardson, which is an attractive pairing for this rebuild. The Texans A&M product averaged 5.6 yards per carry for the Aggies last year and is also a capable pass catcher. It should be noted that he is currently suffering from a shoulder injury, but as long as it’s not too serious, it would be wise for Dolphins GM Chris Greer to try to convince him (why do they need him if they’re going to get Taylor anyway?).
If the Dolphins aren’t any business partner with whom the Colts swing a deal surrounding Taylor, it would be appropriate for the franchise to look at their roster to see if there’s any support they could get in return in a deal, especially if it doesn’t affect a draft pick. compensation.