Jonathan Taylor: Potential Trade Destinations

By Simon Carroll

The devaluation of the running back in the NFL persists – but it appears that at least some of them are not putting up with it.

Jonathan Taylor was given permission by the Indianapolis Colts to seek a trade on Tuesday, a result of his disappointment with the organization’s unwillingness to re-negotiate his contract. As befitting of a man who has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his three years in the league to date, Taylor is looking for a multi-year deal that is commensurate with his production – something that seems all too rare at the position in the game today.

Now comes the tricky part; As Austin Ekeler found out himself this offseason, finding a willing trade partner might not be simple. Convincing a team to not only send Jim Irsay suitable trade compensation, but is also comfortable giving Taylor a long-term, lucrative contract won’t be easy. With that in mind, what are some potential landing spots for the talented running back?

Miami Dolphins

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This one is easy. The Dolphins are currently pushing all their chips in for a Super Bowl run. Mike McDaniel presides over one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, and this front office hasn’t been afraid to back him either. The big trade for Tyreek Hill shows a willingness to part with draft picks if the price is right.

Miami has a diverse, quick backfield already. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson shared the load last year, and they also added the speedy De’Von Achane via this year’s draft. Despite the stacked depth chart, the Dolphins were credited with interest in Dalvin Cook, who ultimately headed to the New York Jets. If they’re still on the lookout for a more physical ball carrier, they may be tempted to take the plunge.

Baltimore Ravens

Another team that hasn’t been shy in adding talent to their offense this offseason, Baltimore finally have Lamar Jackson tied down to a long-term deal. The Ravens have made it something of a priority to give their quarterback improved weapons in the passing game, but perhaps offering another ground threat is the best way to maximize Jackson’s electric scrambling ability.

JK Dobbins, a running back who was selected 14 picks after Taylor in the 2020 NFL Draft, simply hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Imagine lining up opposite an offense that has both Taylor and Jackson in the backfield? Taylor could potentially be the missing piece to help the Ravens compete with the Bengals for the AFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals

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Speaking of…

The Bengals have seemed content to roll with Joe Mixon so far through this offseason – something of a surprise considering his inconsistent performances on the field and his misbehavior off it. What better way to rejuvenate their ground game, and take the pressure off Joe Burrow, by upgrading their running back room?

Cincinnati aren’t known for making splash trades, and would presumably be even more reticent to do so for a running back considering the league’s almost cartel-like stance on the position. But adding Taylor would presumably spell the end in Cincinnati for Mixon, and alongside Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd would likely be the most dangerous offense in the league.

Los Angeles Rams

No team has been as keen to upgrade their run game than the Sean McVay-led LA Rams. After giving Todd Gurley an ill-advised contract extension, they’ve traded for Sony Michel and drafted Cam Akers, neither of which has set the world alight. Michel came and went, and now joins Gurley in retirement. Meanwhile, Akers has been the subject of trade rumors the last two offseasons, such is the team’s willingness to move on from the former second round pick.

Does Les Snead have one more splash-trade in him? And would Taylor offer the perfect antidote to an offense that has regressed sharply since their Super Bowl win? Leaning on a stronger run game could keep Matthew Stafford more healthy, and keep their dubious chances of playoff football just about alive.

Philadelphia Eagles

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Howie Roseman loves a trade. The merest whiff of talent being made available and he’s brandishing draft picks like ten dollar bills at a strip club. And it’s not like the Eagles aren’t in the market for a running back; Since they let Miles Sanders leave in free agency, they sent the Lions a 4th round pick for D’Andre Swift, another ball carrier from the same draft class as Dobbins and Taylor. I think it’s fair to say that – so far – Taylor has set himself apart from the rest of the running backs in this crop convincingly.

Swift potentially leads an underwhelming backfield that includes Rashaad Penny and Kenny Gainwell. Jonathan Taylor represents an immediate upgrade in that room, and may be available for a second round pick. The biggest sticking point would be the lack of salary cap space, but that probably won’t put off Roseman. Some dark arts with the finances and this could be done.

Feature Image Credit: Mykal McEldowney (IndyStar)

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