The Jonathan Taylor saga has been well documented this offseason, with every minor detail about what JT does being reported and scrutinized by main stream media, so I am not going to explain what already happened as I am sure most of you Colts’ fans reading this already know that. What I am going to do is give my public support to owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard, and back the way they are handling a messy situation.
I understand where JT is coming from, and I get that he wants to get paid and secure his financial future. Knowing he is just an injury away from ruining his chance of a big contract must be hard, especially considering he already had some issues with his ankle and he plays at a position where you are constantly either getting hit, or ending with several 250+ pounds players on top of you. I also get he wants to help redefine the market for running backs, because the way recent stars have been treated is not optimal for the position. CMC’s contract had only 47% of the money guaranteed. Derrick Henry was at 51%. Nick Chubb at 47%. Austin Ekeler at 56%. Compare that number to wide receivers (the number tends to be at 60% with some below that, but the guaranteed money is still much higher) or tight ends and you can start to fully understand the scope of the situation here.
Thing is, that is the state of the league right now, a place ruled by supply and demand, and now starting to fully embrace analytics. The simple truth in the NFL at the moment is that passing matters more than rushing. That is inarguably a fact. Look at the top offensives in the league and look at the teams that make the playoffs consistently and you will see that most of them have an above-average passing game. Look at how defenses are being built, putting an emphasis on pass-rushers and linebackers that can cover tight ends and running backs. My theory is that this is mainly because of the recent rule changes in the NFL that give the passing game a massive advantage. Edge rushers have to be extremely careful when rushing the quarterback, and cornerbacks are getting flagged more and more, even though in 2022 it looked like the refs finally started dialing back on all the flags, the tendency remains.
So, we clearly have a league where running backs’ value has diminished drastically. The argument that owners are “negotiating in bad faith” is flat out dumb. If that were actually the case then rest assured that at least one NFL general manager would have exploited this so called bad faith and accumulated running backs on some good value deals, but that is not the case. The simple and unquestionable truth is that paying running backs big money rarely works in the team’s favour.
Now keeping in mind this context, the Colts faced a dilemma with their All-Pro running back. Using the best running backs in the NFL as a benchmark, in order to be undoubtedly deserving of that big second contract a running back has to have: a solid bill of health, three seasons or more of impressive production, be less than 28 years of age. Take Derrick Henry for example. when he got his contract he had played his entire rookie deal, and a season under the franchise tag. He appeared on 15 or more games the first five seasons of his career. He led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns the past two years before getting the deal, and he did not hold out or cause any drama like JT is doing right now. Even Le’Veon Bell only started to hold out after being franchise tagged twice.
Under general manager Chris Ballard, the Colts have made re-signing homegrown talent a priority, as evidenced by the contracts given to Shaq Leonard, Quenton Nelson, Kenny Moore, Braden Smith, Nyheim Hines, Ryan Kelly, and Grover Stewart. So they definitely wanted to keep Jonathan Taylor around and have the means to do so.
Now can you really blame the Colts for wanting to see if Jonathan Taylor’s ankle is fully healed and if he fits the new offensive system with head coach Shane Steichen? And do you, as a Colts’ fan, think the team should just trade away one of their best players for little to no return? Irsay and Chris Ballard are acting in the best interest of the team and the team is more important than any players’ whims or desires. Not to mention how Jonathan Taylor’s agent Malki Kawa is conducting himself, liking several tweets regarding the situation in what can only be described as poor decision making and lack of class. Keep in mind that Malki Kawa works at First Round Mgmt., and they also represent Shaq Leonard so he should already know that the Colts reward good players with second contracts.
Taylor had been a class act before, and he was loved by the entire fanbase, but this prima donna attitude and complaining has estranged him from a big part of the fanbase (including myself), so one can only hope that he acknowledges his mistake and hopefully fires his agent. Let’s not fault Irsay and Ballard for looking out for the franchise and working with the team’s best interest in mind.