Every way the Colts have insulted Jonathan Taylor this offseason

Jonathan Taylor led the NFL in yards and touchdowns two years ago. The Indianapolis Colts haven't exactly returned the favor.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts / The Indianapolis Star-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Indianapolis Colts' summer has been marred in controversy surrounding the trade request of star running back Jonathan Taylor. The 24-year-old, who led the NFL in total yards (2,171) and touchdowns (20) in the 2021 season, asked Colts owner Jim Irsay for a trade after the two sides failed to find common ground in contract extension talks.

Taylor is understandably eager to reset the dying RB market and sign a lucrative long-term contract. He's arguably the best RB in football, smack dab in the middle of his prime. Injuries held Taylor back last season, but he's an absolute dynamo at full strength. There's every reason to believe he has more Pro Bowl seasons on the horizon.

Indianapolis, however, does not wish to sign Taylor to a long-term contract — especially not one with heavy guarantees. That's in keeping with every other NFL team, but Jim Irsay and the front office have been particularly dismissive and disrespectful toward Taylor.

Let's go through the sequence of events.

Timeline of Indianapolis Colts' Jonathan Taylor disrespect

On July 29, Taylor requested a trade from the Colts after meeting with Jim Irsay on the owner's luxury bus.

That same day, Irsay sent a text to NFL insider Albert Breer: "We're not trading Jonathan… end of discussion. Not now and not in October!"

He didn't stop there.

Later in the day, Irsay told reporters "No one treats players as well as this franchise." He then added more: "If I die tonight and Jonathan Taylor is out of the league, no one’s gonna miss us. The league goes on. We know that. The National Football [League] rolls on. It doesn’t matter who comes and who goes, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it." (h/t James Boyd, The Athletic)

So, Irsay basically told Taylor to stop whining and accept whatever paltry offer we deign to give you. Not what you want from a billionaire sports owner who's supposed to, you know, support players and win football games.

On July 30, ESPN reported that Taylor sustained a back injury that was deemed unrelated to football activities. Taylor fired back on Twitter: "Never had back pain. Never reported back pain."

On Aug. 3, it was revealed that Jim Irsay is backing a $20 million effort to relocate Lolita the orca from the Miami Seaquarium to her natural habitat in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state. That's actually awesome and Irsay deserves props, but it's a reminder of how much spending money this man has. It's not exactly below the dignity of football for the NFL's best RB to demand a half-decent contract.

After placing Taylor on the PUP list with an ankle injury, the Colts eventually granted permission for Taylor to talk to other teams about a potential trade on Aug. 21.

Then, less than two weeks later on Aug. 29, the Colts essentially shut down trade conversations after no suitable offers materialized. It doesn't sound like the Colts tried very hard to find suitable offers, however: the Dolphins were reportedly asked to part with WR Jaylen Waddle. Sounds like the Colts never had any real intention of letting Taylor go.

On Aug. 30, after refusing to pay the man and subsequently refusing to grant his trade request — not to mention a dispute over injuries in between — Colts GM Chris Ballard said he hopes to repair the relationship with Taylor.

"The situation sucks," he told Zak Keefer of The Athletic. "It sucks for the Colts, it sucks for Jonathan Taylor, and it sucks for the fans. It's where we're at, and we're gonna work through it ... relationships are reparable."

Now, Taylor will start the season on the PUP list and miss at least four weeks. It's anybody's guess as to whether or not Taylor will ever play for the Colts again, but the franchise has certainly not endeared itself to the star RB.

It's one thing to express hesitation about paying a RB top dollar in today's NFL. It's another to treat your best offensive player the way Indianapolis has treated Taylor. Ballard is right — relationships are reparable — but the Colts have a long and difficult road ahead to truly make Taylor happy in Indy.

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