Trade scenarios for Jonathan Taylor, Colts

INDIANAPOLIS — The month-long saga between Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts may be heading toward resolution, as sources told ESPN Monday that Taylor has been given permission to look for a business partner.

The Colts are looking for big compensation over a draft pick — a first-round pick or a similar package of picks — but the decision to allow Taylor to seek a trade marks a significant milestone in the ongoing drama between the team and the 2021 NFL rushing champion.

Taylor was seeking a contract extension while the Colts were adamant in their position that the timing was not right for Taylor’s contract extension. The resulting backsliding has hit that point, and a solution may be in sight. NFL teams must finalize their roster by August 29, which creates a deadline for Taylor’s talks to be completed.

What then? What does a Taylor market look like and is there any recent precedent for such a situation? ESPN Colts reporter Stephen Holder and the NFL’s Jeremy Fowler answer the NFL’s biggest questions.

Are the Colts serious about trading him?

What is with you: Yes. Although Colts owner Jim Irsay issued a blatant denial of Taylor’s previous trade request — “We wouldn’t trade Jonathan Taylor” — the organization has always kept that option on the table. Making the move to let Taylor deal with the other teams is a huge turnaround. It could also be an acknowledgment that the trade provides a viable solution to a problem that has been around for about a month.

But sources said the Colts would not give Taylor up. It remains to be seen if they will get the first-round pick (or a similar group of picks) they’re looking for, but the team still considers Taylor an elite player and wants compensation commensurate with that valuation.

What is the market for Taylor?

the hunter: Many league executives believe that, as a talent, Taylor has a strong market. He’s a 24-year-old former sprint champion with home runs ability. These are very rare credentials. An executive judged Taylor worthy of selection on the second day. Multiple teams have inquired recently.

But the contract will be the biggest hurdle. Teams that want to sign Taylor to a long deal — like five years — in the $11m or $12m per year range may not be a start for Taylor. Yes, the 49ers gave up several top picks last season in favor of Christian McCaffrey, who is the reigning $16 million a year quarterback. But the 49ers paid McCaffrey $690,000 for the prorated portion of his salary last season, on top of the $11.8 million he was owed in 2023 (which was eventually reworked).

Meanwhile, trading with Taylor would likely require paying a large signing bonus now as part of the new deal. This may be a problem for some interested teams. Miami was identified as a potential home for Taylor, due to general manager Chris Grier’s penchant for targeting star players and the Dolphins’ previous interest in Dalvin Cook. But the teams aren’t quite sold yet in Miami which is ahead of everything here.

What are the comparisons with this situation?

What is with you: With the running back saddened by his undervalued position, this is not the best environment to try to make big wins for Taylor. But as Jeremy mentioned, the final comparison might be the deal to send McCaffrey from the Panthers to the 49ers on October 21, 2022. The circumstances were different – McCaffrey had already had a lucrative extension from Carolina and wasn’t asking for a trade. — But the parallel is that both players are elite full-backs. San Francisco gave up 2023 second, third, and fourth round picks and a 2024 fifth round pick. This is an important package for the Panthers team that is rebuilding around rookie quarterback Bryce Young.

In a similar scenario, Los Angeles Chargers manager Austin Ekeler tried to find a trade destination due to his dissatisfaction with his existing contract. But a lack of suitors willing to meet the Chargers’ compensation demands led to an impasse. Ekeler was eventually awarded additional incentives worth $1.75 million on top of his expiring four-year, $24.5 million deal. Key difference: Eckler is 28 while Taylor is 24.

For the record, the last time a running back was traded for a first-round pick was in 2013, when the Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson to…the Colts. This trade did not produce the intended results as Richardson lasted only two seasons in Indianapolis, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. The Colts waived him in 2015.

If there was a trade, how deep would Indy fall?

What is with you: Not great. In two preseason games, the Colts did not produce a rushing team of 10 yards or more. There is a distinct lack of ability to explode without Taylor, especially given Taylor’s breakaway speed and long runs are the trademark of his style.

The Colts are also missing Taylor’s best backup, Zac Moss, who fractured his right arm and could miss the start of the regular season. That left Deon Jackson at the top of the depth chart, a third-year player who averaged 3.3 yards in his career. Evan Hull has been promised as a pass catch/third linebacker, but the Colts currently don’t have anyone in the backfield that the defense really fears.

If there is no trade, can the Colts salvage the relationship, or will this loom large all season?

What is with youThere is little sign that the fences can be repaired, but Taylor is highly motivated to have a productive season. He could become an unrestricted free agent in the spring, and he’ll want to join free agency after a strong performance. He will need to be activated from the physically unable to perform list by August 29 or face the possibility of missing the first four weeks of the regular season. He is also set to earn $4.304 million this season, provided he sticks to his contract.

But there is another fact: if no trade deal takes place, rumors will continue to circulate until the October 31 trade deadline expires. The showdown between Taylor and the squad has already cast a shadow over the team’s training camp, and interest is unlikely to wane at any time. almost. If the Colts decide to move on with Taylor, they do so knowing it could get messy.

Owner Jim Irsay, in an on-air appearance during the team’s preseason broadcast Saturday night, admitted, “I know (General Manager) Chris Ballard is going to work hard and keep the waters as calm as possible moving forward.”

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