As trade rumors for Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor heat up, it's time to look towards a seemingly inevitable future that doesn't include the young star. Head coach Shane Steichen has continuously dodged questions about the running back and instead has focused on players that are practicing every day.
With Steichen focused on the upcoming season, it's fair to say him and Chris Ballard could be planning for a Taylor-less team heading into Week 1. The question is: how do you plan around losing your most productive offensive weapon?
Anthony Richardson's mobility will play a big factor in the run game if Taylor leaves, but the running back position will still need to be filled. The Colts can either take a chance with an inexperienced rostered player, or opt to go a different route and sign an established veteran to help carry the load.
Indianapolis has set a deadline of August 29 for Taylor to find a suitable trade partner. If Taylor stays, he more than likely will remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list past Tuesday, which would keep him out for at minimum the first four games. So, trade or not, the Colts have a massive offensive gap to fill which means some players will need to step up to help distribute the workload.
3. Running back Deon Jackson must step up for Colts
With Jonathan Taylor on the trade block and Zack Moss suffering a broken arm in training camp, all eyes are on former Duke University running back Deon Jackson. The 24-year-old has only started two games in his Colts career, both because of injuries to starters.
Despite only starting two games, Jackson appeared in 16 of 17 games last year for the Colts. The former Blue Devil has only rushed for 267 career yards with an additional 209 receiving yards on 30 receptions.
Having little experience on the gridiron at the professional level, Jackson would be a risky bet from the Colts to lead the backfield. Indianapolis brought in former Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns running back Kareen Hunt for a visit, but never signed him to a contract which could represent how highly they value Deon Jackson.
Even if the Colts sign a veteran back, expect Jackson to see more snaps in the 2023 season. His receiving ability gives him an edge over other backs as he makes the most of every catch.
In 2022, Jackson had 228 yards after the catch (YAC). His YAC was more than his total receiving yards on the year, meaning majority of his receptions came off screen plays. With good open-field ability, Jackson needs to prove his worth to the Colts offense with every touch he gets.