OCTOBER 4: ESPN’s Stephen Holder notes that, to no surprise, Taylor’s teammates are excited about his presumed return to action in Week 5. The 24-year-old’s relationship with the Colts seems to be “headed in the right direction,” Holder writes, adding that Taylor’s mindset regarding his situation in Indianapolis has “improved significantly.” That points to an audition period in 2023 taking place, the potential trade effects of which will be worth watching closely.
Taylor was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, though it was merely a walkthrough. Still, all signs continue to point to his 2023 debut happening on Sunday as the next phase of his Colts tenure takes shape.
OCTOBER 2: After two months of trade rumors, Jonathan Taylor remains on the Colts. While the prospect of trade is not believed to be shut down, the team is indeed opening the running back’s practice window.
A Sunday report indicated this move was coming, and Shane Steichen confirmed Taylor is slated to return to practice Wednesday. Taylor has resided on Indianapolis’ reserve/PUP list; he will now have a 21-day window to return. Questions remain about Taylor’s desire to play for the Colts again, and the trade deadline looms Oct. 31. For now, however, the Colts will move him closer toward playing for them in 2023.
Steichen also did not rule out Taylor from making his debut Sunday against the Titans, Fox 59’s Mike Chappell adds. Taylor requested a trade in July, amid a clash with owner Jim Irsay, and likely attempted to use his ankle issue as a way to avoid a return to the Colts. The 2021 rushing champ is believed to have been healthy for a bit now; Irsay proclaimed him ready to go back in mid-July. But a stretch of turbulence between Taylor and the team engulfed Steichen’s first summer on the job. It will certainly be pivotal if/when Taylor addresses his situation this week.
After Irsay flatly stated Taylor would not be traded back in July, the Colts did end up engaging with teams ahead of the August deadline to finalize 53-man rosters and set injured lists. The Dolphins and Packers discussed Taylor with the Colts, with other teams rumored as interested to a lesser degree. Rumors have emerged about the Colts’ lack of desire to truly move the contract-year back, a development foreshadowed by Jaylen Waddle coming up in Dolphins talks. The Taylor market never appeared robust, and it has cooled from the August point.
The Colts are believed to have dropped their asking price for the fourth-year RB. No team has fetched a first-rounder for a running back since the Colts sent the Browns one for Trent Richardson 10 years ago, and Indy is now open to accepting a Round 2 choice here. As of last week, Taylor also remained at odds with the Colts. Of course, if Indianapolis does not make a deal, Taylor’s options are limited.
Once Taylor returns to practice, the Colts will have 21 days to activate him from the PUP list. If the team does not do so, Taylor’s season is done. A player not on an injured list exaggerating an injury to force a trade is not unprecedented; Jalen Ramsey did so in 2019, when the Jaguars collected two first-rounders from the Rams. But some finality to Taylor’s 2023 saga looks to be coming. Steichen said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) he has stayed in contact with Taylor during his time on the PUP list.
It is also uncertain if Irsay and GM Chris Ballard are on the same page regarding a potential trade. If the Colts do not trade Taylor, they would still have the option of franchise-tagging him in 2024. This year’s franchise tag deadline accelerated Taylor’s standoff with the Colts, with three running backs (Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard) playing on the tag. And the grim prospect of Taylor playing out his rookie deal and then being cuffed still looms. Though, the Colts will need to decide how much longer they want to endure this situation. How Taylor reacclimates under a new coaching staff could be important as he rejoins his teammates at workouts.
Winning the 2021 rushing title by more than 500 yards, Taylor missed six games due to an ankle injury — his first notable malady during his college or pro careers — last season and underwent what was labeled a minimally invasive surgery in January. It is expected the Wisconsin product is good to go. If Taylor is truly on track to play in Colts games, he would presumably reclaim the starter role ahead of Zack Moss, who has operated as such for the past three weeks. The 2022 trade acquisition has played at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps in each of his three games since returning from a broken arm.