Latest On Jonathan Taylor’s Colts Extension

After a dreary several months that included an NFL grievance against the NFLPA, the state of the running back position perked up over the weekend. Jonathan Taylor secured a surprising extension agreement, ending his standoff with the Colts and giving a depressed market a vital update as the year winds down.

Taylor’s $14MM AAV checks in third among running backs, behind only the extensions Christian McCaffrey ($16MM per year) and Alvin Kamara ($15MM) signed in 2020. With Kamara needing an inflated $22MM salary in the contract’s final season to prop up the per-year number, McCaffrey’s deal has stood alone since the Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott. Taylor’s three-year, $42MM pact contains no dummy contract year, making this a true $14MM-AAV agreement.

[RELATED: Colts Did Not Engage In Serious Taylor Trade Talks]

The fine print for the former rushing champion is in, per OverTheCap, which indicates Taylor signed for $19.35MM fully guaranteed. The $26.5MM reported guarantee covers some additional injury guarantees, which pertain to the 2025 season. In terms of fully guaranteed money, Taylor’s deal sits behind McCaffrey ($30.1MM), Derrick Henry ($25.5MM) and Bijan Robinson‘s rookie deal ($21.96MM). Taylor became the first back since Nick Chubb in July 2021 to sign an eight-figure-per-year contract, and the Colts agreement resembles the one the Browns authorized two summers ago.

Like Chubb, Taylor signed a three-year extension. The rest of the active big-ticket RB contracts covered four (McCaffrey, Henry, Joe Mixon) or five (Kamara). CMC’s deal tied him to the Panthers for six years since he signed it with two years left on his rookie contract. Jones re-signed with the Packers in 2021, serving the same purpose as the Chubb and Taylor three-year re-ups due to those being contract-year extensions.

This timeline would allow Taylor to potentially cash in again, albeit ahead of his age-28 season. Although Taylor’s deal is not as friendly as McCaffrey’s, the Colts deviating from their stance against extending him provided a nice reward for his rookie-contract production.

Taylor received a $10.25MM signing bonus and will see his 2023 and ’24 base salaries ($1.74MM, $7.8MM) fully guaranteed. Taylor’s new agent did well to secure a year-out guarantee structure for his 2025 salary as well. The contract calls for an $11.98MM base salary in 2025; $7.15MM of that total is guaranteed for injury at signing, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. That sum becomes fully guaranteed on Day 5 of the 2024 league year. This stands to give Taylor three years’ worth of security, seeing as the Colts would need to cut or trade him before that March 2024 date to avoid that $7.15MM 2025 guarantee vesting. Taylor’s 2026 base salary ($11.98MM) is nonguaranteed.

The Colts give pay Taylor’s signing bonus in two installments, per Florio, with a $2.56MM payment coming Oct. 20 and a $7.69MM guarantee coming March 29, 2024. The 2020 second-round pick was tied to a $4.3MM base salary this season; Saturday’s agreement obviously generated a better outcome. This contract gives Taylor some security for his age-25 and age-26 seasons and removes a big name from the 2024 free agent market. Although the threat of an Indianapolis 2024 franchise tag helped drive the wedge between Taylor and the team, the Colts bending in ways the Giants and Raiders did not helped produce a resolution. (The Giants, Raiders and Cowboys also have veteran quarterbacks under contract for 2024; the Colts pivoting away from that years-long strategy, via Anthony Richardson, helped Taylor’s cause.)

Henry, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler and Taylor fill-in Zack Moss are among the backs on track to hit free agency. Taylor’s deal likely will not lead to that lot of high-profile backs matching him, as an even snazzier buyer’s market could form in 2024. But it does provide a positive development after an offseason filled with releases, pay cuts and trade requests going nowhere.

While Taylor previously had the Indy backfield to himself, it should be expected Moss will retain a role after his early-season production. The 2022 trade-deadline acquisition amassed 195 scrimmage yards in Indy’s win over Tennessee on Sunday. That showing does help to illustrate why teams have shied away from big payments to RBs, but Taylor’s ramp-up period will undoubtedly end with him back in the starter role.

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