The stalemate between the Indianapolis Colts star running back Jonathan Taylor and the management went from simmering to boiling within the media on Monday evening. The Colts organization gave Taylor’s camp permission to seek a trade and began communications with other teams on the prospect of a trade. No single issue has led to this request as this has been building since the end of last season after Indy ended one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history.
If we’re going to blame someone for things getting so bad, there are four candidates we will look at to place the blame on. Let’s take a look at each person’s role in this saga.
Candidate No. 1: Jim Irsay
Colts owner Jim Irsay has been very vocal about Taylor this past month since training camp started, and Taylor showed up and was quickly put on the PUP list. He has used Twitter (or X) to make his beliefs heard about the current stalemate that they are in. Irsay believes that he needs to honor his contract and continue to deliver on the expectations that he sets as an owner.
The Colts have not delivered on any of those since Taylor took over as the starting running back. While Taylor did win the rushing title in 2021, they have only had one playoff appearance (in 2020) and his individual accolades have not made them a true contender.
Candidate No. 2: Chris Ballard/ Shane Steichen
Attaching these two as one candidate seems needed as they both make the final decisions on what will ultimately happen to Taylor. Chris Ballard continues to be on a hot seat as he has not delivered on Irsay’s high expectations either. Ballard and Shane Steichen are both taking the expected wait-and-see approach.
This is new territory for Indianapolis with all eyes on the new rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson. Steichen has shown his ability to mold a young quarterback into greatness, but he has also shown that he does not need a bell cow running back in his system. He most recently used a running-back-by-committee style with the Philadelphia Eagles with great results. With the money cycling out of the running back market, its warranted by them to make sure Taylor is healthy and recovered from his season-ending ankle injury from last season.
Candidate No. 3: Jonathan Taylor
Obviously, you must mention Jonathan Taylor as this is his decision to request the trade via his agent. Taylor undoubtedly wants to be paid his fair value amongst all running backs and players on the team. Taylor is in the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him about $4 Million dollars this season. While that is undervalued based on his production, it’s the contract that all rookies sign after they are drafted based on round.
He requested his trade after a conversation with Jim Irsay and (reportedly) was told they would not be offering him a contract extension until either later in the season or until the end of this season after seeing how the offense will run under Shane Steichen and OC Jim Bob Cooter.
Candidate No. 4: Malki Kawa
The biggest nag on the Colts front office right now has been Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa. While he does not have the biggest names in the NFL, he does have experience in MMA and Wrestling representation. Kawa has fanned the flames of the stalemate by acting like a petulant child on Twitter with Colts owner Jim Irsay. Kawa is obviously trying to represent his client to get him paid (which gets him paid) but his actions seem to be deteriorating the situation.
His biggest NFL client is current Colts LB Shaq Leonard, but aside from Leonard he has minimal representation in NFL circles. While getting Leonard paid was probably no small feat, he is failing right now with Taylor as both appear to be dug in and unwilling to negotiate in good faith with each other this season.
So who deserves the blame for Colts situation with Jonathan Taylor?
While all four have some blame in this whole stalemate, it seems to be Kawa that has the largest target with the media and the fanbase. Taylor has been the model teammate in Indianapolis and is beloved by the city and fans alike. It appears Kawa has some insider knowledge of his real worth in this league and is trying to get that either from Indianapolis or somewhere else.
The truth of the matter is that Taylor is not healthy and is coming off a season where he finished on Injured Reserve and it appears that the ankle is still not completely healed. He also had two good years where the Colts did not make much noise in the postseason or were not a part of it completely. The new regime will put a pause on all extensions to this point until we see where Steichen and his staff take this new team. Whether Kawa likes it or not, it’s best for his client to show up for work and start building up more of his resume for his potential impending free agency next season.