The Indianapolis Colts once traded their star running back to the Los Angeles Rams for two draft selections, including a second-round choice. If it were up to Pro Football Focus’ Marcus Mosher, it would happen again.
Among five trades that could shake up the 2023 offseason, Mosher proposed the Colts dealing running back Jonathan Taylor to the Rams for a second-round pick and additional draft capital.
“Taylor is entering the final year of his contract, so the Indianapolis Colts might want to avoid making him the league’s highest-paid running back, as they are set to begin a rebuild,” Mosher wrote. “Could the Rams flip the No. 37 pick in this year’s draft, along with some other filler picks, to get the best pure running back in the league?”
In 1999, the Colts sent Marshall Faulk to the Rams for draft picks in the second and fifth rounds. Ironically, the second-round pick was No. 36 overall.
Colts Trading Taylor for NFL Draft Picks?
How likely the Colts keep Taylor may depend on how quickly the team views its ability to become a contender again.
The Colts have been deemed “a quarterback away” from being a Super Bowl contender for years. But that’s not the case anymore, as the team went 4-12-1 in 2022.
Taylor is obviously an exceptional player and only turned 24 in January. There should be several more years where he’s a top running back in the NFL.
However, NFL running backs have become synonymous with short careers. If the Colts fully enter a rebuild mode this offseason and identify 2025 or later as the most realistic season as the next time they will be a serious contender, it’s possible the team could deem Taylor more valuable as trade bait than as a non-contender’s star player.
To maximize Taylor’s trade value, the Colts would have to deal him this offseason. As Mosher noted, that would also allow the Colts to avoid needing to sign Taylor to a major contract extension.
Reasons to Keep Taylor in Indianapolis
The argument to trade Taylor makes sense on paper. But as the cliché goes, teams are never really as far from contending as it may appear.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard could believe that, preventing him and the team from wanting to deal Taylor. It’d be one thing if the Colts could land a first-rounder for Taylor. A second-round choice is valuable, but usually not franchise altering.
Indianapolis could use the second-round pick acquired in a Taylor trade to draft his replacement, who would be younger. Taylor, himself, was a second-round choice in 2020.
But the likelihood Ballard finds as good of a running back as Taylor with a second-round choice seems slim.
Even if the franchise enters rebuild mode and drafts a quarterback, the Colts could use an elite running back. A guy like Taylor could tremendously help a young signal caller, and the development of that young quarterback would far outweigh any draft compensation the Colts receive in return for Taylor.
The 24-year-old running back led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns just two seasons ago. He made the All-Pro and Pro Bowl in 2021 as well.
In three NFL seasons, he’s rushed for 3,841 yards and 33 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
During 2022, Taylor struggled with multiple injuries, playing in only 11 games. He didn’t record a single carry after December 4.
Taylor finished 2022 with 861 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns with a 4.5 yards per carry average. But there’s nothing to suggest he won’t return to All-Pro form in 2023.