All-Pro Playmaker Eyeing Vikings in Trade Talks: Report

O'Connell, Cousins, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings watches during warmups alongside quarterback Kirk Cousins prior to a game against the Chicago Bears in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings have caught the eye of All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor, whose representation sent a feeler out to Minnesota.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on Thursday, August 24, that Taylor’s representation “would love” to get Minnesota at the table to negotiate a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, namely due to the elite talent on offense.

“The Taylor camp would love to involve the Vikings,” Wolfson said on “SKOR North’s Mackey and Judd podcast“. “The Taylor camp looks at it and says, ‘Hey, great situation there, Alexander Mattison, is he ready to be the No. 1? My client, our guy, he can have success in that offense with Justin Jefferson, with those two elite tackles.’ ”

While the idea of Taylor joining the Vikings is enticing, Wolfson cleared the air that it is unlikely the Vikings would make a deal to land Taylor despite his talent.

“The Taylor camp would love to see the Vikings get involved with the Colts in trade dialogue. But, bottom line, I  do not see a scenario where Johnathan Taylor ends up here in Minnesota.”

Why the Vikings Won’t Touch the Jonathan Taylor Situation

Taylor, 24, requested a trade from the Colts at the start of training camp on July 29 amid a contract dispute with the organization. Taylor led the league with 2,171 yards from scrimmage in 2021 and is seeking a lucrative extension as the NFL appears to be departing from an era of paying running backs like a premier position.

The Vikings are among the teams who have moved off expensive running backs, recently releasing Dalvin Cook in June as he was due to make over $14 million for the 2023 season.

Many of the league’s backs have voiced their frustration with the league, which led Colts owner Jim Irsay to insert himself into the debate, making a post on X (formerly Twitter) that led to Taylor’s trade request just days after.

“NFL running back situation – We have negotiated a CBA, that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides,” Irsay wrote. “To say now that a specific player category wants another negotiation after the fact, is inappropriate. Some agents are selling ‘bad faith.’ ”

Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, replied shortly after: “Bad faith is not paying your top offensive player.”

In an interview the next day, Irsay clarified that his post was not directed at Taylor — however, it’s not hard to imagine it informing Indianapolis’ philosophy about paying the position.

“The comment wasn’t really directed at Jonathan,” Irsay said, per ESPN’s Stephen Holder. “We haven’t exchanged any contract numbers with each other or anything like that. So, it’s not like we’re in the midst of that. I think we had a tough season last year. Didn’t win a lot of games. This is a year about coming back together and having a great year and we’re really depending on Jonathan to team up with [quarterback] Anthony Richardson to try and pull together to have a great year.”

Irsay’s outspokenness on not paying Taylor has tipped the scales in favor of the star running back being traded.

However, the biggest dilemma is the fact he’s a star playmaker in his prime, which the Colts would want valuable draft capital, while his new team would also have to offer him the lucrative extension he is looking for on top of the draft picks.

That leaves the likelihood of Taylor coming to Minnesota a moot topic given the current roster construction.

Vikings May Still Need Reinforcements at RB

Alexander Mattison

GettyAlexander Mattison is poised to become to the Vikings starting running back to begin the 2023 season.

While Irsay’s camp would argue that Mattison may not be ready for a feature back role, the Vikings made that bet by signing the fifth-year back to a two-year, $7 million deal that is almost fully guaranteed.

However, beyond Mattison there are questions.

Ty Chandler, who appears to have won the backup job, is explosive as a runner and pass-catcher but has struggled with consistency at times. Kene Nwangwu is on the mend with an undisclosed injury. The duo combined for just eight snaps last season outside of a meaningless Week 18 season finale against the Chicago Bears.

Newly signed running back Aaron Dykes flashed during his Vikings debut against Tennessee, although he is also lacking regular-season experience. Seventh-round rookie Dewayne McBride is still raw and is likely bound for the practice squad.

Minnesota has hosted veteran running backs Mike Davis and Kareem Hunt and could make a move come around roster cutdown day on August 29.