Jonathan Taylor has been disgruntled for some time now and the Colts finally gave in slightly, allowing Taylor to seek a trade. Taylor has been seeking a new contract extension with the team, and has been more motivated to do so since Jim Irsay’s bus conversation with him.
Taylor is in the final year of his rookie contract, and his 2023 season will pay him 4.3M in cash and his cap hit is $5.1M (with the Colts). His next contract is projected to be in the $11-$13M per year range, but some reports have suggested that Taylor is asking for around 20M per year, which would be well above the current market high. If traded, teams getting Taylor would have to take on 4.3M in cap hit (which would be the Colts’ savings) and the Colts would have to eat around 800k. Which teams could use someone like Taylor and what type of price can the Colts get for him?
- Chicago Bears
- Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins
- Washington Commanders
- Minnesota Vikings
- Los Angeles Rams
- Baltimore Ravens
The Chicago Bears currently have Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman in their backfield. Taylor would be an incredible upgrade over both, in an offense that will primarily look to run the ball with Justin Fields as their quarterback. Matt Eberflus is also the head coach and he knows Taylor pretty well, since he was the defensive coordinator of the Colts for Taylor’s first two seasons in the NFL. They have over $16M in cap space and 4 picks in the first 3 rounds (2 firsts, 1 second, 1 third). In my opinion, this would be one of the teams that the Colts can get a lot for considering their abundance of early picks. Ill put the Bears as one of the likeliest teams to acquire him.
The Buffalo Bills are and have been Super Bowl contenders for the past few seasons and Sean McDermott over the last couple of years has asked for his team to be more balanced. They currently have James Cook, Damian Harris and Latavius Murray in their backfield so while it’s a bit crowded, Taylor is a clear upgrade over all three. Because of its crowdedness, the Colts could potentially get Cook in return. This would be the ultimate scenario for Taylor, who would see lighter boxes, would be a part of one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and he could even get a ring out of it. The Bills have 6M in cap space which is just enough to afford him. Keeping him after next season would probably be difficult since the Bills are currently in the negatives in terms of cap space for 2024. They have all their draft picks so if they were to want him, it would probably be a one year rental for them so I can’t imagine them giving up a lot for that, especially if the Colts are asking for an early pick. I would say the Bills are unlikely to acquire him.
The Miami Dolphins currently have Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson in their backfield and coach Mike McDaniel has always liked a running back by committee approach. With that being said, Taylor would add a very explosive ground element to their offense on top of an already explosive passing element. That amount of dynamite could tempt the Dolphins into making a move. They have more than enough cap space to get him (13.1M), but like Buffalo, keeping him in 2024 would probably be very difficult since they are also in the negative with a lot of big names to feed. I’ll put this destination as unlikely, but not impossible.
The Commanders are starting fresh with Sam Howell as their quarterback. Howell could use a star running back to help carry the offense early on for him. The Commanders have Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson in their backfield and while that’s a formidable duo, neither are going to carry an offense. They have more than enough cap space to acquire him and have a ton of cap space in 2024 to re-sign him if needed. They have all of their picks in the first three rounds so they can afford the price and the payment plus it would benefit them this season and moving forward.
The Vikings got rid of Dalvin Cook, which might seem like a shredding salary type of move, but the reality is is that they are (at least in their eyes) a borderline contender, so getting one of the best running backs in the league can put them in the top 6-7 teams of the NFL. Taylor would not be expensive for them this year (although they can easily afford him with 10.4M in cap space) and they’ll have enough room to re-sign him for next season if they feel like doing so. They are one of the most intriguing teams in this list and would develop one of the best three-headed monsters in the league with Jefferson, Taylor and Cousins. The Vikings are definitely a team to watch.
Los Angeles Rams
We know the Rams love to make big moves, so they can never be ruled out. The Rams actually have all of their early picks in the draft and 10.1M in cap space. They also have nearly 50M in space in 2024. The Rams with picks and cap space don’t usually sit idle. They also have one of the weakest backfields in the NFL, led by Cam Akers and Kyren Williams. Sean McVay definitely isn’t the type to want to sit around and twiddle, he likes big splash moves to improve his team. The Rams lack an offensive spark at the moment and are purely reliant on Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. Adding Taylor would add an incredible element and give them a great 3-headed monster, plus allow them to be more balanced and take some stress off of Stafford. The Rams should definitely be players for Taylor.
The Ravens are building a mega offense, but all they’re missing is a superstar running back. JK Dobbins is a very good player, but is often injured and Gus Edwards isn’t necessarily a player who should be fed a lot of big reps. Taylor fits perfectly in the backfield with Lamar Jackson and his presence alone will make things a lot easier for Jackson. The Ravens have 7.2M in cap space this season and 15.6M next season, so while it could be a bit tight next season to keep him, it’s definitely doable. They also have all of their early picks. Getting Taylor would make the Ravens, who are already a top 10 team, one of the best, balanced teams in the NFL.
Gun to my head pick: Chicago Bears
Ideal scenario for Taylor: Baltimore Ravens or Buffalo Bills
Don’t count out: Los Angeles Rams
His Trade Price
Source: The Colts are seeking a first-round pick -- or package of picks that equates to as much -- in a potential Jonathan Taylor trade.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 21, 2023
According to Stephen Holder of ESPN, the Colts are seeking a first round pick or something equivalent to that. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will get it, but they are setting the bar high. I do not believe a team will offer a first round pick for a running back since McCaffrey last season didn’t even get one. I believe Taylor could fetch a similar price to what McCaffrey got which was a 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Now, by most measures, McCaffrey is a more versatile talented player than Taylor but he had a few more years of mileage on him. Like Taylor, he also had a questionable injury past, but McCaffrey more so than Taylor.
It feels like Taylor will get a deal that will include a 2024 2nd round and 2024 4th round pick (or something close), or if the team doesn’t want to part with a 4th round pick in the next draft, we could see a 2025 3rd round pick be included instead of the 4th rounder.
For many of these teams, parting with a 2nd round pick and a 4th or a future 3rd plus around 12M isn’t that steep a price, especially if they see Taylor as a key part of their offense. He is only 24 years and has at least 4 more good seasons in him if we go by the “Running Back Wall”. That’s especially intriguing for a title contender who may be a piece of two away from a championship. There is a very strong chance now that Taylor could be playing in a new uniform come September.