If all else fails, trade Jonathan Taylor
We know: The Colts refuse to trade the star running back. They're also refusing to pay their star running back what he wants. If this is still an issue in two weeks, trade him. Just...trade him.
UPDATE: In the last few minutes, it was reported the Colts have given Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade. I wrote this piece a few hours ago before the news was reported.
The stalemate continues. And here’s the dangerous part of the Jonathan Taylor/Colts standoff: There’s no scenario that anybody can see where compromise might be a possibility. They’ve all talked and postured themselves into their respective corners, Taylor saying he wants a new deal or a trade, the Colts saying there will be no deal and no trade.
The end result is that Taylor, who has been in and out of camp and is traveling with the Colts to Philly this week, is still walking around in his hoodie, the now-trademark scowl on his face. Why he’s around in the first place – tell him to rehab and go home and don’t infect the rest of the team – is anybody’s guess.
So what now?
I’d give it two weeks, two weeks until the start of the regular season, and if nothing is happening…trade him.
I know, Jim Irsay told reporters he wouldn’t trade Taylor under any circumstances, but what’s the alternative? Even though the Colts have all the leverage — well, they do — what’s the point to all that leverage if you end up cutting off your nose to spite your face? . Think about it: How do the Colts benefit from refusing to re-do his contract or trade him? What purpose is served by letting him sit there and rot, mean-mugging the whole time?
In a more perfect universe, where adults speak with each other and not at each other on Twitter, the Colts and Taylor would come to an agreement on a deal. Can you imagine a two-headed running monster of Taylor and Anthony Richardson? How much would Taylor aid in the young quarterback’s development?
The problem is, we don’t know what he’s asking. So is a two- or three-year contract at $10-11 million a year do-able? Is he being reasonable? Realistic? Or completely nuts?
Nobody seems willing to compromise.
And that’s the rub.
The larger theme here is, both sides feel like they’re fighting for a cause bigger than themselves.
Taylor and his agent are fighting for running backs, a devalued position group, to earn what they believe they deserve. It’s been a rough couple of years for running backs, who, because of the collective bargaining agreement, become available for the big bucks just about the time their play is starting to decline. Understandably, backs and their agents are trying to maximize their earning potential before they get franchise tagged.
Irsay, who spoke up for fellow owners during the effort to oust Daniel Snyder, feels he’s standing up for his fellow rich folks by refusing to give in to his running back’s contract demands. Irsay, who is now one of the old-school owners, doesn’t want to run afoul of his buddies by re-setting the market for running backs.
See what I mean? You could make either argument and have a leg to stand upon.
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What could the Colts get for Taylor? I could guess here, but it would be a complete guess, and that’s not really worth sharing. Let’s just say, less than the Panthers got for Christian McCaffrey. It just seems to me if the Colts can get value for Taylor – and this assumes the stalemate will continue – then why not make the move and add assets for next season? Of course, this all assumes somebody is willing to trade for Taylor and agrees to pay him close to the kind of money he’s demanding. And that’s no sure thing.
And while we’re at it…please, stop blaming this entirely on Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa. He doesn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed – check out his Twitter for further evidence – but it’s not like he’s working unilaterally here and filling Taylor’s head with unrealistic contract expectations.
Taylor is an extraordinarily intelligent young man, a guy who could have gone to Harvard and other Ivy League schools. He’s not going to be duped by an agent who doesn’t have his best interests at heart. There’s a reason why Taylor changed agents shortly after he spoke to the media in April, when he said, in essence, I signed a four-year deal, they committed to me and now I have to be committed to them. The agent is doing what Taylor wants him to do. Taylor wants him to be a hard-ass. Taylor wants him to posture and threaten and be a thorn in the Colts’ side.
Make no mistake: This is a Jonathan Taylor production.
This idea that he’s physically unable to take part in pre-season work is an insult to our intelligence. This has nothing to do with his ankle or any other body part. This is a “hold-in”. Right? If it walks like a hold-in and quacks like a hold-in, it’s probably a hold-in. This is all about gamesmanship, including that farcical trial balloon that was floated about putting Taylor on the Non-Football Injury list.
Listening to Jim Irsay Saturday night during the telecast of Saturday night’s preseason game with the Bears, I didn’t sense there was any change in his stance, but it did seem like he was trying to lower the temperature a bit, maybe extend a very small olive branch.
He said that “timing is everything” and by that, I think he’s talking about the fact we’re just weeks from the Sept. 10 start to the Indy season. As we’ve seen a million times in sports and general business, nothing gets done until it has to get done.
If it doesn’t get done by season’s start, though, clear the phone lines and start talking. I’m aware the Colts don’t want to give in here, don’t want to appease Taylor and honor his trade request, but what are the alternatives? If you continue to play hardball and he reluctantly returns, do you really want somebody who’s heart isn’t with this team?
I can’t blame Irsay for taking the position he’s taking. This is about football capitalism, supply-and-demand and the fact that, yes, all of this has been bargained in the CBA. NFL owners are not in the business of giving away money when they don’t have to. (Unless it involves a now-deceased orca RIP).
I can’t blame Taylor who is, by any measure, terribly underpaid. He’s scheduled to make $4.3 million this year. That sounds like a lot to you and me – that’s because it is a lot to you and me – but Taylor figures to have a short shelf life. Virtually all running backs have short shelf lives. If you’re in Taylor’s position, you need to make it while you can.
When’s the last time you heard about a great old running back? Frank Gore maybe? By the time these guys hit 28, or even younger, they’re cooked.
That’s what makes this so damn complicated. Both sides are somewhat right and both sides are somewhat wrong. But it’s the way this has been handled – by both sides – that makes it so distasteful. Neither side has covered itself in glory since this contentious affair began.
Maybe in the end, Taylor capitulates, understanding he doesn’t have much if any leverage.
And maybe he doesn’t.
Maybe it continues to be a stalemate.
At that point, trade Jonathan Taylor. Because while letting him rot may feel good, it doesn’t help you develop your quarterback or win football games.