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Why did Jonathan Taylor request trade from Colts? Contract dispute, tension with Jim Irsay leaves RB wanting fresh start

Jonathan Taylor and the Colts are inching closer and closer to a messy breakup.

Talks between the star running back and Indianapolis brass took place Saturday. Despite the third-year pro being clear about his demands — he wants a contract extension — it seems the organization still has its doubts.

That has led Taylor to reevaluate his future. Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the All-Pro has requested a trade from Indianapolis.

Jonathan Taylor contract dispute, explained

Per Rapoport, Taylor wanted a deal that put him on equal footing with the game’s best runners. Team owner Jim Irsay and the organization have yet to make their star an offer, putting the two parties at odds. And Irsay isn’t interested in fulfilling Taylor’s trade request, either. 

MORE: Explaining Jonathan Taylor’s contract dispute with the Colts

Taylor, 24, is the Colts’ biggest offensive weapon. He has tallied 3,841 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns in his career, netting 5.1 yards a carry in the process. His All-Pro display in 2021 made him the talk of the league and earned him a second-place finish in Offensive Player of the Year voting.

Despite his early-career success, Taylor’s skills have gone underappreciated. It’s an increasingly common sight across the NFL: the running back position has seen its value plummet. Case in point: Miles Sanders’ deal with the Panthers — which pays him an average annual value (AAV) of $6.4 million — is the gaudiest contract any running back has received this offseason.

All of that appears to have weighed on Taylor. So, too, has Irsay’s insistence on publicly blasting the league’s top running backs for desiring to be rewarded justly for their performances.

MORE: Why Saquon Barkley ended 2023 holdout threat with surprise one-year deal

Irsay tweeted the following in response to news of a Zoom call among running backs led by the Titans’ Derrick Henry. Many believed that his comments were influenced by Taylor’s contract situation.

Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, offered a scathing response: 

And although the Colts owner claimed his comments weren’t in reference to the dispute between his organization and Taylor, he fired back at Taylor shortly after their reported meeting Saturday.

Will Jonathan Taylor be traded?

Irsay was adamant in a statement to NFL Media’s Albert Breer that Indianapolis was not dealing Taylor:

Text from @Colts owner @JimIrsay on Jonathan Taylor’s trade request (as reported by @RapSheet): “We’re not trading Jonathan… end of discussion. Not now and not in October!”

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 30, 2023

The plight of the running back in the NFL is threatening to swallow another one of the league’s brightest talents whole. The drama surrounding Taylor and other ballcarriers won’t be going away anytime soon.

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