Jonathan Taylor has been sensational in his first three seasons in the NFL. After being drafted in the second round of 2020 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, he quickly established himself as one of the best running backs in the league. By year two, Taylor was leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, and carrying the Colts to victories.
Undoubtedly one of the best players in the league, everyone felt that Indianapolis was lucky to have Taylor, and that he’ll be a focal point for the team for many years moving forward. However, just ahead of Taylor’s fourth season, that promising tale has quickly unfolded into a nightmare.
With just one year remaining on his rookie contract, Taylor entered the offseason expecting contract extension negotiations with Indy. The Colts had different plans. The team hasn’t made Taylor an offer, and doesn’t plan to until next offseason. This has led to a frustrated Taylor, who’s currently on the PUP list, requesting a change.
While it may seem strange that Indianapolis is taking a stand like this against arguably its best player, it shouldn’t be that surprising considering the Colts history with elite running backs.
Historically, Colts haven't paid elite running backs
Taylor isn’t the first elite running back that the franchise has had. In fact, Indianapolis has been blessed with some of the best running backs in NFL history. In 1987, Indy traded for Eric Dickerson. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and made the Pro Bowl in his first three years with the team, leading the league in rushing yards in 1988 with 1,659. However, a contract dispute led to a messy last two years in Indy, and the Colts eventually traded Dickerson.
A few years later, in the 1994 NFL Draft, Indy used the second-overall pick to select Marshall Faulk. Faulk ended up being as advertised, making the Pro Bowl in both of his first two seasons. He signed a seven-year contract as a rookie, and by year five, Faulk was a three-time Pro Bowler and extremely productive. Naturally, Faulk wanted a new contract. But, the Colts just traded him instead.
Indianapolis would replace Faulk in the following draft by selecting Edgerrin James with the fourth-overall pick in the 1999 Draft. Like Faulk, James was an immediate star. He led the league in rushing in both of his first two seasons, and made four Pro Bowls in seven years with the Colts. When it was time for a new contract, Indy let him walk in free agency.
These are three Hall of Fame running backs that Indianapolis was comfortable moving on from. Just recently, Jim Irsay described Jonathan Taylor as a Hall of Fame talent, and it seems like Indy will be comfortable losing him as well. Although Irsay is saying the Colts plan for Taylor to be apart of the team’s future, history tells us that’s unlikely.