In a sign of further escalating tensions, the Indianapolis Colts are reportedly considering placing running back Jonathan Taylor on the non-football injury list, a move that would allow them to withhold his entire 2023 salary.
Colts insider Mike Chappell reported the news on Sunday, adding that Taylor is dealing with a back injury from working out in Arizona during the offseason. ESPN’s Stephen Holder reported that Taylor has complained of back pain that the team deems pre-existing from prior to training camp.
Taylor is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and is already on the physically unable to play (PUP) list. Per Holder, the team wasn’t aware of any back issues until Taylor reported to training camp last Tuesday.
Players on the PUP list are due their salary. Players on the NFI list are not, though teams can negotiate to pay players if they choose.
Taylor denied on Twitter Sunday evening that he’d experienced or reported any back pain.
Taylor — a 2021 All-Pro and NFL rushing champion — is due $4.3 million this season on the final year of his four-year rookie contract. He’s seeking a long-term extension that would pay him considerably more annually. The Colts have declined to offer him an extension. At worst if he’s healthy, he projects to secure a one-year franchise tag tender next season that would more than double his 2023 salary.
The 2023 franchise tag tender for running backs is $10.1 million. But if he lands on the NFI list and remains there all season, his $4.3 million 2023 salary would toll for next year.
Taylor’s been vocal this offseason about running back pay and his desire for a new contract, leading to a contentious public back-and-forth involving his agent Malki Kawa and Colts owner Jim Irsay. Taylor joined a chorus of disgruntled high-profile running backs lamenting the state of the position’s pay after Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard failed to secure long-term extensions this offseason.
On Wednesday, Irsay tweeted that running backs seeking new negotiations are doing so in “bad faith” at the advice of their agents.
Kawa fired back on Twitter that Irsay is not paying the Colts “top offensive player.”
Since then, Irsay and Taylor sat down for a meeting that reportedly involved Taylor requesting a trade. Irsay denied that request and said that Taylor won’t be traded in the future. Now the Colts are reportedly considering a transaction that would prevent Taylor from receiving a paycheck for the 2023 season.