Jonathan Taylor

Colts Expect Jonathan Taylor To Return In Week 16

Jonathan Taylor has been sidelined since Week 12 due to a torn UCL in his thumb, but he could be on the verge of returning to the lineup. Head coach Shane Steichen announced the team’s top running back is expected to play in Week 16.

Indianapolis’ upcoming game against the Falcons was recently reported as a realistic spot for Taylor to return to action, so Steichen’s update comes as little surprise. Still, his addition to the lineup will be a welcomed development as the Colts continue their playoff push. Taylor (who has no injury designation after practicing in full this week) has been limited to seven games in 2023 while dealing with multiple injuries.

That includes the ankle ailment which lasted through Taylor’s turbulent contract talks. In the end, he landed a three-year, $42MM extension, raising expectations for his short- and long-term production. The 24-year-old has yet to reach 100 rushing yards in a game this season, however, and his 4.1 yards per carry average is the lowest of his career. Improving in that regard could help the 8-6 Colts stay in contention for a wild-card berth or even the top spot in the AFC South as the season winds down.

Taylor could handle a heavy workload if he is able to play on Sunday, particularly if Zack Moss is unavailable. The latter suffered a shoulder injury in Week 15, and he was forced to leave the win against the Steelers after just four carries. Moss has had a strong season to date, and the Colts enjoyed signficant success on the ground with Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson last week. Still, Taylor would provide another high-end option in the backfield to close out the season.

Steichen also revealed on Sunday that wideout Michael Pittman Jr. has cleared concussion protocol. That puts him on track to play against Atlanta on Sunday, a game in which Indianapolis could be at or close to full strength in the skill-position department.

Latest On Colts RB Jonathan Taylor

The Colts could welcome back their offensive star as soon as next week. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, there’s optimism that running back Jonathan Taylor will be available for the Colts’ Christmas Eve matchup against the Falcons.

Taylor suffered a torn UCL in his thumb back in Week 12, and standard surgery would have kept the running back off the field for months. Instead, the player underwent an internal brace procedure, giving him a recovery timeline of three-to-five weeks.

Taylor wasn’t able to return to the field for the short end of that recovery timeline, as the running back was already ruled out for today’s game against the Steelers. The Colts decided against placing Taylor on injured reserve, a move that would have kept him off the active roster until at least Week 17.

The former All-Pro RB missed the start of the season thanks to an ankle injury/contract dispute, and it didn’t take long for Taylor to return to the field after inking a a three-year, $42MM deal in October. In his seven appearances, Taylor was averaging a career-low 59.1 rushing yards per game, but he was starting to heat up before his latest injury, collecting 160 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Week 10 and Week 12.

Zack Moss had a productive start to the season while filling in for Taylor, but the veteran backup has struggled during Taylor’s most recent absence. Over the past two weeks, Moss has collected 113 yards from scrimmage on 38 touches.

Latest On Colts RB Jonathan Taylor

Just as Jonathan Taylor had ramped up to a level reminding of his pre-injury version, the recently extended running back needed another shutdown period. Taylor underwent thumb surgery last week, and the Colts do not appear to be expecting him back too soon.

Although Taylor played through the injury to close out the Colts’ Week 12 game, the former rushing champion’s issue was serious enough it required an immediate procedure. Taylor suffered a torn UCL in his thumb, according to’s Ian Rapoport, who details the nature of the setback. The fourth-year back tore the ligament off the thumb’s base. The damage also affected a tendon in Taylor’s hand, with surgery the only way to correct this issue.

Had Taylor gone in for a standard surgery to address the UCL tear, he would have faced a months-long recovery. Instead, Rapoport adds an internal brace procedure — one that stands to allow a late-season comeback — became the plan of attack. The internal brace procedure, which Drew Brees underwent in 2019, presents Taylor with a three- to five-week recovery timetable. The Colts do not plan to place Taylor on IR while he recovers, which allows him to avoid a mandatory four-game absence.

When Taylor went under the knife in Los Angeles, the Colts hoped to have him back in two or three weeks. The three- to five-week timetable would stand to sideline Taylor in Week 15 as well. While a minimum three-week hiatus may be more damaging to fantasy GMs than the Colts, given Zack Moss‘ production in extended relief this season, Indianapolis does have two games against fellow AFC playoff contenders — being set to play the Bengals — over the next two weeks.

Taylor, 24, did well to secure guaranteed money when he could, having now experienced ankle and thumb ailments that required surgeries. While the journey to reach that extension led the Colts and their starting running back to a strange place from which an escape once seemed difficult to envision, Taylor signed a three-year, $42MM deal in October — before coming off the reserve/PUP list. The 2021 All-Pro received $19.3MM fully guaranteed, while an additional $7.2MM will come his way in 2024. That additional $7.2MM — part of Taylor’s 2025 salary — shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2024 league year.

Prior to last year’s ankle injury, Taylor rolled through his Wisconsin tenure and first two Indianapolis seasons without a notable injury. The Colts acquired Moss in the Nyheim Hines trade last year, and the ex-Bills second-rounder has played exceedingly well in his contract year. While lacking Taylor’s top-end skillset, Moss boasts a better yards-per-carry number (4.5) to the Colts’ preferred starter (4.1) this season. Moss’ 723 rushing yards rank 11th this season.

Taylor’s deal will allow him to avoid a 2024 franchise tag or a trip to what could be a crowded free agent market. Moss joins Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler and D’Andre Swift as notable backs in contract years.

Colts’ Jonathan Taylor To Undergo Surgery

NOVEMBER 29: The Colts are not looking to save a roster spot here. They will go week to week with Taylor, per Shane Steichen, who said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) the team is not considering an IR stint. Steichen pointed to Irsay’s timeline of a Week 15 or Week 16 Taylor return being a realistic target.

NOVEMBER 28, 3:01pm: Taylor will indeed miss time. The standout back is set to undergo thumb surgery, according to Jim Irsay (via The Athletic’s James Boyd). This is not a season-ending procedure, but Boyd notes a multiweek absence is expected. The Colts hope Taylor will be able to return in two or three weeks, though Rapoport adds an IR move — one that would sideline Taylor for four games — may be under consideration before this week’s game.

1:13pm: Just as he has reestablished himself as a full-time player, Jonathan Taylor may need some additional time off. The Colts running back — who has overtaken Zack Moss after his re-acclimation period upon returning from the reserve/PUP list — is uncertain for Week 13 due to a thumb injury,’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Taylor sustained the injury during his 91-yard, two-touchdown game against the Buccaneers, a Colts win that helped the team to 6-5 and into the No. 7 spot in the AFC’s playoff race. All options are on the table here, per Rapoport, though’s Stephen Holder notes the team remains in evaluation mode. No IR decision has been made.

Coming into last season, Taylor had not missed any time due to injury during his NFL or college careers. He attempted to play through an ankle issue last season but missed six games and eventually required surgery. That problem may or may not have dragged into the summer, with Taylor’s contractual impasse and subsequent trade request having plenty to do with his absence from training camp as well. But Taylor still missed the season’s first four games. After signing a three-year, $42MM extension, the fourth-year running back was in uniform for Week 5.

The Colts had steadily increased their standout starter’s workload in the weeks since his return. His snap share went from 15% to 42% to 50% to 61% to 74% to 88% from Weeks 5-10. In Week 12, Taylor played 58% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps; he was, however, on the field to convert a game-clinching first down in the final minutes. The Wisconsin alum has two 90-yard rushing games over his past four.

Having made an unexpected voyage into surefire playoff contention, the Colts have a clear Taylor backup plan. Moss remains 10th in the NFL with 672 rushing yards. While not as talented as Indy’s starter, Moss holds a 4.8-yard average per carry (compared to Taylor’s 4.1 number) and has played well in a contract year. If Taylor needs to miss time, the 2022 trade acquisition will likely step in as a full-time player once again. After sustaining a broken hand during camp and missing Week 1, Moss retook the reins and kept them until the Colts deemed Taylor ready to go. He played at least 76% of Indy’s offensive snaps in four games this season.

Shane Steichen, Anthony Richardson Swayed Jonathan Taylor’s Colts Commitment

Even as the Colts designated Jonathan Taylor for return, a cloud of uncertainty hovered over the standout running back. Taylor had requested a trade and, as of late September, was still aiming to move elsewhere. Upon returning to practice before Week 5, Taylor said he was with the Colts “right now.”

The fourth-year back had taken a hardline approach this offseason, and team brass noticed an attitude change from a player who had been viewed as a team-oriented cog during his first three seasons. Jim Irsay‘s comments about running backs coming shortly after the franchise tag deadline produced an 0-for-3 RB extension finish led Taylor — who was a clear candidate to be tagged in 2024 — to request the trade. The sides instead came through with a belated solution, reaching a surprising extension agreement to bring Taylor back into the fold.

GM Chris Ballard initially helped turn the tide by reaching out to Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, according to’s Stephen Holder, who adds the other two Colts cornerstone figures played a major role in moving the 2021 rushing champion back to a place in which he viewed himself as a long-term Indianapolis staple. While Ballard’s path with Taylor’s new agent worked, Holder adds Taylor conversations with Shane Steichen during the former’s time on the reserve/PUP list also played a role in turning the tide.

Despite Irsay proclaiming Taylor recovered from his January ankle surgery ahead of training camp, the former second-round pick landed on the active/PUP list in July. Taylor was absent from practices at multiple points, twice leaving the team during camp. Once the Colts shifted Taylor to the reserve/PUP list in August, mandating a four-game absence, he went through his rehab sessions in the morning and did not attend Colts offensive meetings. The team signed off on this setup, per Holder, and Taylor maintained his isolationist stance by not attending Indianapolis’ home games to start the year.

The Steichen-Taylor chats included understandable discussions about No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson, and the high-ceiling prospect’s presence helped convince Taylor — well, that and the three-year, $42MM offer — to stand down and return to the team in earnest.

We had the same kind of feelings toward [Richardson],” Taylor said, via Holder. “I want to be here for A.R. I want to be able to help him grow in the future. He’s the future of this organization.

With all of the business stuff going on, just to be able to sit down and really be able to just connect with someone in the building was a big thing. That’s a stressful side. But I was able to just sit down with Shane and just talk about what it looks like going forward. Not only for myself, but the whole entire team. Just his vision. And he wants to legit dominate.”

Ballard noticed a change in Taylor’s demeanor shortly before the extension commenced and contacted the once-disgruntled RB’s camp about negotiations before Week 4, Holder adds. The sides were discussing the deal as Taylor launched into his “I’m here right now” refrain two weeks ago. Taylor did not want to return without a new contract in hand, which should not surprise given the nature of this impasse. (As some noted lyricists have taught us in the past, money has a history of ending standoffs.) Taylor returned when first eligible, with the Colts slowly integrating him into Steichen’s offense.

Even as the offseason introduced a bleak reality for the running back position and no team agreeing to an eight-figure-per-year deal with a back since the Browns’ three-year, $36.6MM Nick Chubb re-up in July 2021, the Colts relented on their Taylor extension stance. The Wisconsin alum is now the league’s third-highest-paid back, and his deal did not require an inflated contract year like Alvin Kamara‘s did. While Taylor’s fully guaranteed money ($19.35MM) is fourth among backs, he has a practical guarantee of $26.5MM due to a $7.15MM injury guarantee shifting to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2024 league year.

Rumored to be strongly considering season-ending surgery, Richardson may not link up with Taylor on a full-time basis until September 2024. But Taylor’s deal puts him in line to help Richardson’s development. For now, Indy’s top RB will continue to ramp up toward a full workload — one that will likely feature Zack Moss in a complementary role, as the Colts are now eyeing a partnership this season — in a Gardner Minshew-directed offense.

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.

Colts Did Not Receive Jonathan Taylor Trade Offers

Week 5 saw the return of Jonathan Taylor to the Colts’ lineup, after he agreed to a three-year extension over the weekend. That deal marked an end to the questions surrounding his future in Indianapolis, and confirmed a lack of interest on the part of other teams with respect to acquiring him.

Taylor’s trade request – borne out of the team’s decision not to engage in extension talks – was initially denied, but in time the 2021 rushing champion was allowed to seek out a deal sending him elsewhere. The teams most closely linked with Taylor were the Dolphins and Packers, both of which were reported to be willing to pay him at or near the top of the market. That ended up being the case for the former second-rounder, but his $42MM pact came from Indianapolis after trade talks slowed down.

As The Athletic’s Dianna Russini confirms, the Colts did not receive any firm offers or engage in “serious conversations” regarding a potential Taylor swap (subscription required). Indianapolis was believed to have included wideouts Jaylen Waddle and Christian Watson in their asking price for hypothetical deals with Miami and Green Bay, respectively. To no surprise, those players proved to be non-starters. Another factor which represented a barrier to a deal getting done, of course, was Taylor’s contract status.

2023 marks the final year of the Wisconsin alum’s rookie contract, meaning he would have needed to be franchise tagged or signed to a multi-year extension by an acquiring team to justify sending draft capital to the Colts to finalize a trade. Indianapolis initially set the price at a first-round pick (or a package of similar value), but that later came down as the relationship between team and player seemed to be beyond saving. Instead, Taylor’s return to practice paved the way for a warming of relations and an agreement being struck which will seem him earn $26.5MM in guaranteed money. Russini notes that the commitment required on a new deal, rather than the cost of a trade, was the main roadblock to a swap being worked out.

With Taylor having secured the third-highest AAV ($14MM) amongst running backs, it will be interesting to see if the position’s market can rebound in the coming free agent period after seeing its downward trend continue in 2023. With a long list of notable names on expiring contracts, though, it would come as a surprise if teams spent considerable resources at the RB spot, as their aversion to acquiring Taylor illustrated.

Latest On Colts, Jonathan Taylor

The Colts-Jonathan Taylor saga came to an end on Saturday with the parties finalizing a three-year, $42MM extension. The deal coincides with the former rushing champion’s return to game action, and it illustrates the degree to which fences were mended before an agreement was reached.

As Taylor rehabbed his lingering ankle injury – an ailment which led to his PUP designation to start the year and invited questions about his true health status – it seemed clear his relationship with the Colts was beyond repair. Indianapolis had denied the 24-year-old’s extension request, and allowed his agent to explore a trade. No deal materialized, though, setting Taylor up for a return to action in Week 5.

The former second-rounder added to the uncertainty surrounding his tenure with the Colts when speaking publicly for the first time this season, but that is now no longer in doubt. Attitudes on both sides seemed to improve recently as Taylor rehabbed; that process drew praise from the organization, SI’s Albert Breer notes. Now that a multi-year pact is in place, Taylor will look to return to his 2021 form while the Colts move forward with their top rushing option.

Having previously taken a public stance against running backs meeting to discuss the position’s downward financial outlook, owner Jim Irsay made one of the league’s top commitments with this Taylor contract. The former’s remarks in the wake of the deal – which will see Taylor earn $26.5MM guaranteed – confirm his expectation that a return to full health and productiveness will take place following a brief easing-in period.

In a conference call with local reporters, Irsay acknowledged (via Fox 59’s Mike Chappell) that he felt the extension was put together “too soon” in Taylor’s contract year but expressed enthusiasm over the prospect of having the Wisconsin alum in the fold through 2026. Talks on a deal – and, along the way, attempts to thaw relations – took part recently, with Chappell noting franchise icon Edgerrin James was involved in the process. If all goes according to plan, the team’s offense will be founded on the play of Taylor and rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson for the foreseeable future, a prospect Irsay added he is encouraged by.

“[Taylor’s] a SPECIAL player and this extension is important knowing the impact he’ll make as our team develops under [head coach] Shane [Steichen],” a statement from Irsay reads in part. “I have no doubt he’ll continue to create highlight plays and memories for our fans. He deserves this deal and I’m happy for him.”

Colts, RB Jonathan Taylor Agree To Extension

11:30am: And just like that, Taylor is staying in Indy long-term. The Colts have signed the star running back to a three-year extension, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Taylor is set to make his season debut tomorrow but there were still question marks surrounding his future with the organization. Now, he’ll be signing a lucrative contract extension with the organization, with the three-year pact worth $42MM, including $26.5MM in guaranteed money.

As Schefter notes, the two sides tossed aside their ongoing issues and negotiated a new deal. Taylor recently hired new representation in Malki Kawa and Ethan Lock, and Schefter notes that the duo negotiated with Colts owner Jim Irsay, GM Chris Ballard, and front office executive Mike Bluem. ESPN’s Stephen Holder tweets that Ballard reached out to Taylor’s camp last week and started negotiations, and The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes that the relationship between the two sides was described as “improving” when Taylor returned to practice.

In terms of average annual value, Taylor now ranks third at the position behind Christian McCaffrey ($16MM) and Alvin Kamara ($15MM). This is the first time a running back has signed an extension worth more than $10MM per year since Nick Chubb in 2021.

Taylor was set to hit free agency following the season, but his extension does little to subtract from a talented RB free agent class. Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, and J.K. Dobbins will all hit the market after the season.

11:20am: Jonathan Taylor is set to make his season debut tomorrow. The Colts announced that they’ve activated the star running back from the physically unable to perform list, and Taylor’s questionable tag was also removed ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Titans. To make room on the roster, the Colts have waived running back Jake Funk.

We seemed to be trending towards this outcome after Taylor put in a full week of practice. The running back was designated to return to practice earlier this week, giving the Colts a 21-day window to activate him. Following his return, the impending free agent described his ongoing contract situation as an “offseason issue,” and while he refused to discuss his future with the Colts, he did admit that he’s “here right now” and ready to play.

Taylor, of course, went from declaring his desire to be a life-long Colt to requesting a trade. The RB’s issues with owner Jim Irsay, who pushed back at the ongoing RB-market discourse, contributed to his deteriorating relationship with the organization. While the running back will be taking the field for the Colts, it’s uncertain how much longer he’ll be with the organization.

The Colts shopped Taylor prior to the regular season, but their asking price was reportedly too high. The team has since dropped their demands, but at the same time, the trade market for the RB has reportedly cooled. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds, but for at least the time being, Taylor will be sticking with the Colts.

Taylor will obviously be a huge addition to the 2-2 Colts, with the RB having topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of his three NFL seasons. Following a 2021 campaign where Taylor finished second in Offensive Player of the Year voting after collecting 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, he was limited to only 1,004 yards from scrimmage in 11 games last season.

Zack Moss has filled in with Taylor sidelined, and the veteran has collected 322 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in three games. The Colts have already seen plenty of turnover in the backfield, with Week 1 starter Deon Jackson getting cut and rookie Evan Hull being declared out for the season. Trey Sermon recently joined the roster and will likely roll as the RB3 going forward.

Jonathan Taylor Addresses Recovery, Colts Status

Designated for return from the Colts’ reserve/PUP list this week, Jonathan Taylor is practicing with his team for the first time since last season. The former rushing champion’s status for Week 5 is unclear, but he confirmed Thursday he is healthy. For a second straight day, Taylor was a full practice participant.

Although Taylor underwent what has been classified as a minimally invasive ankle surgery in January, he has either taken much longer than expected to recover or used the injury as an excuse to stay away from the team amid trade talks. Asked about the extended rehab timeline, the fourth-year running back said (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter and the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) “no surgery is the same” but added he is ready to return.

In his first comments since the July trade request, however, Taylor has refrained from discussing his Colts future. Taylor said he is “here right now” but added he is committed to returning to action (via Fox 59’s Mike Chappell). The disgruntled back is set to begin a contract year late. The Colts have the option of trading of him until October 31, but this long-running issue could also be put aside for the time being.

With Taylor calling his contract situation an “offseason issue,” the Colts could be set to activate him. They can do so at any point until October 25. If Taylor is not activated from the PUP list by then, he would stay on the PUP list for the rest of the season. That would be highly unlikely, as it would lead to Taylor’s contract tolling to 2024. Shane Steichen has not ruled out Taylor from playing against the Titans on Sunday. Considering what has gone down between player and team over the past 2 1/2 months, Taylor’s debut — whenever it happens — will be one of the most interesting in recent NFL history.

Already expressing disappointment about the state of the running back market, Taylor shifted from wanting to retire as a Colt to asking for a trade. Jim Irsay played the lead role in the relationship’s deterioration, sending a much-discussed tweet criticizing running backs for gathering on a Zoom call to discuss the seismic offseason at their position. A subsequent Taylor-Irsay meeting did not go well, and while the owner attempted to walk back his comment by saying it was not aimed specifically at Taylor, the damage escalated. Taylor’s recently hired agent became a prominent player in this impasse as well, and the three-year Colts RB1’s demeanor changed upon returning to Indy’s facility.

Taylor, 24, is in a difficult position with regards to his contract. Although the Colts have taken care of a number of core players before their contract years under Chris Ballard (Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith and Shaquille Leonard among them), the seventh-year GM cited Indianapolis’ 4-12-1 2022 record as a reason the team was not planning to extend Taylor this year. The team declined a Taylor extension request this offseason. Barring a trade before the deadline, the Colts will still have the option of franchise-tagging Taylor — on what will be the NFL’s second-lowest tag number, ahead of only kickers and punters — in 2024.

The Colts have discussed Taylor in trades, doing so during the final week of August. While the Dolphins and Colts engaged in discussions, doubt surfaced about Indianapolis’ desire to grant Taylor’s request. Irsay initially said the Colts would not trade Taylor, but the team is believed to have since dropped its asking price — from an unrealistic place (a first-rounder or equivalent value) to pushing for a second-rounder — in recent weeks. The market for Taylor, which was never believed to be robust, looks to have cooled. That may well have prompted Taylor to stand down and begrudgingly return to the team.

In his most recent healthy season, Taylor won the rushing title by more than 500 yards. This ankle issue doubles as Taylor’s only notable injury during his pro or college careers. It had been widely suggested Taylor was exaggerating the injury to apply pressure on the Colts. If the Wisconsin alum truly needed more than eight months to recover, that would stand to affect his trade value as well. Teams had been leery of trading prime draft assets for Taylor and agreeing to a top-market extension. The ankle issue being a true nagging concern would introduce another complication.

The Colts have used Zack Moss as their primary back over the past three weeks, and the ex-Bills second-round pick has played fairly well. Moss has gained 210 rushing yards over the past two games. That said, Taylor has proven to be one of the NFL’s premier backs when healthy. If activated, he should regain his starting role quickly. Though, it would not surprise to see Moss remain in the mix with the now-Anthony Richardson-led offense.