In some very surprising news, according to Stephen Holder, who covers the Indianapolis Colts for ESPN, the Green Bay Packers were in talks with Indianapolis about trading for star running back Jonathan Taylor.
"“The Green Bay Packers also were in talks with the Colts,” wrote Holder, “and had legitimate interest in trading for the star running back, sources told ESPN.”"
Taylor is entering his fourth NFL season and is looking for an extension that the Colts are not interested in paying at this time, especially with the current state of the running back market. Taylor then requested a trade, and the Colts have been in talks looking for a partner. However, Indianapolis gave themselves a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday to reach an agreement with another team, and when one did not materialize, the placed on Taylor on the PUP list, which means he will have to miss at least the first four games of the season.
But just because no trade agreement has been reached at this time, doesn’t mean that Taylor can’t still be dealt. Holder added that there is still trade interest in Taylor around the league and the NFL’s trade deadline isn’t until October 31st.
Taylor is a former All-Pro, who led the NFL in rushing in 2021 with 1,811 yards and also a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns. For his career, he is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and has also been active in the passing game with 130 career targets as well.
"“Let’s get the checklist out,” said Brian Gutekunst when asked about inquiring about Taylor. “First of all, I can’t talk about players on other teams. We try to be in every conversation. Any time we have good players available to us, we’d like to make the Green Bay Packers better and we’ll look at those opportunities. That’s about what I got to say about that."
Already known, the Miami Dolphins were the other team that Holder mentioned in his report in terms of expressing interest in Taylor.
Everything about this move is head-scratching from the Packers perspective, and leaves us with more questions than answers—it really just doesn’t make much sense.
Of course, in a vacuum, who wouldn’t want to have Taylor’s on the field performance on their team? He’s also still just 24-years-old, whereas Aaron Jones will be turning 29 later this year. But as we all know, there is a lot more that goes into that, specifically Taylor’s contract.
Squeezing Taylor’s $4.3 million base salary onto the 2023 books would be tricky for the Packers but doable, especially if an extension for Rashan Gary were to get done sooner than later. However, as already mentioned, he is in store for a new contract, and for a running back, a big one at that. So not only would the Packers be paying a premium contract-wise for the running back position, but they’d have to give up premium draft capital to do so as well in order to acquire Taylor—potentially as high as a Day 2 pick.
Success on the ground is going to be a must for this Packers team. For one, having a good run-pass mix and utilizing play-action are important elements of the Matt LaFleur offense. Not to mention that with a first time starting quarterback and a young group of pass catchers, a sound run game with early down success to keep this group out of predictable passing situations will be a must.
Although for 2023, with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, the Packers already have one of the best running back duos in football, looking ahead to 2024, there could be some turnover at this position. As of now, Dillon is set to be a free agent while Jones comes with a cap hit of $17.1 million and could be a cut candidate. With that said, at a position that in recent years has proven to be replaceable, again, paying a premium in draft capital and cap dollars makes little sense.
Perhaps, and most likely so, this was one of those instances where the Packers were doing their due-diligence and checking in on the situation. As Brian Gutekunst has said previously, he wants to be in on every conversation—although Holder did specify that the Packers had “legitimate” interest.
"“Again,” said Gutekunst, “there’s a lot of conversations [where] we are used, at times, for leverage, as well. We aren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing if we’re not investigating these things. At least listening to things. It’s just the nature of the world now. There’s all kinds of things out there. Some are true, some aren’t.”"
However, I just can’t see an actual trade for Taylor materializing for the Packers, primarily for the reasons mentioned, but a recent report also suggests that the Colt’s asking price is quite staggering.
"“We have a great running back room,” added Gutekunst. “We’re really excited about it. I think they’re a strength of our football team. We have a lot of conversations. If people perceive that it’s one thing or another, I can’t control that.”"