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How the Indianapolis Colts should approach a Jonathan Taylor extension

No bigger roster question remains this offseason than that of Taylor’s contract situation.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are at a crossroads in rebuilding, or rather, retooling the roster. With a rookie quarterback under center, it’s crucial to build the roster quickly to take advantage of the so-called “Super Bowl window.”

No bigger roster question remains this offseason than that of Jonathan Taylor’s contract situation. So how should the Colts approach Taylor and what could a potential extension look like?

Declining Running Back Value

It’s no secret that running backs have been devalued across the league. Over the past several seasons, teams have been more and more cautious about breaking out the checkbooks for their supposed superstar backs.

Throughout this offseason alone, we’ve seen Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott released from their teams, while Aaron Jones took a massive pay cut to stay in Green Bay.

The Colts and Chris Ballard have obviously been watching the running back market, and I’m sure Jonathan Taylor and his representation have as well, and they’re likely watching Saquon Barkley’s extension closely as his caliber of play most closely resembles.

Right now, the highest-paid running back is Derrick Henry, earning $12.5 million per year. Nick Chubb follows closely behind averaging $12.2 million per year. There’s no doubt Taylor will want to earn close to, if not higher than, the aforementioned backs. And $12 million per year will likely be the starting point for any negotiations.

Possible Extension Outline for Taylor

Recently, the best backs in the league have signed four-year deals and often fail to see the final year of said contract. So how can Taylor and the Colts find middle ground? A two or three-year extension with big-time guarantees.

So what could that look like? While $12 million per year is the starting point of negotiations, odds are Taylor will earn closer to $14 million per. A three-year, $42 million deal with $20+ million guaranteed would give Taylor the big money contract while also giving the Colts future flexibility if Taylor’s body begins to break down. Indianapolis could even offer a two-year deal worth more per year if necessary, but Taylor may want a longer commitment from the Colts.

But if Taylor digs his heels in and wants to reset the running back market, the Colts may be better moving on from the Pro Bowl back. Some fans may not want to hear it, but there are wiser ways to address the running back position than spending a large chunk of cap space on one ball carrier.