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Colts RB Jonathan Taylor requests trade following meeting with owner Jim Irsay

After a conversation in his owner's bus, Jonathan Taylor is looking to motor out of Indy.

The All-Pro running back requested a trade following a meeting with Jim Irsay on the team bus during Saturday's training camp session, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Taylor, who is currently on the physically unable to perform list, wants a contract extension that puts him in line with the league's highest-paid running backs, but the Colts have not yet made a contract offer, according to Rapoport.

Irsay told reporters following the meeting that the team is still not planning an extension for Taylor at this time, and later told Albert Breer he was not trading the Pro Bowler.

"We're not trading Jonathan ... end of discussion," Irsay texted Breer. "Not now and not in October!"

The 2021 rushing champ is Indianapolis' most prolific offensive weapon, with 3,841 rushing yards, 33 touchdowns and an average of 5.1 yards per carry in his career. He's also collected 104 receptions for another 802 yards and three scores in the passing game.

Taylor's desire for a change of scenery comes in the final year of his rookie contract at a time when the value of running backs appears to be bottoming out. It's also notable that he told Irsay he desires a trade days after the owner inserted himself into the conversation regarding the RB market and revealed no contract talks have taken place between Taylor and the team.

An offseason that included Miles Sanders being the highest-paid free-agent runner with an average of just $6.4 million per year, and three stars -- Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard -- receiving the franchise tag without a long-term deal by the July 17 deadline, culminated in a recent Zoom call between the best at the position to discuss the depressed market.

Najee Harris then said Wednesday that he and his fellow backs had exchanged solutions that included changing the franchise tag so it isn't applied according to position, per ESPN, thus equaling the playing field.

That brought about Irsay's comments on social media Wednesday evening: "NFL running back situation -- We have negotiated a CBA, that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides. To say now that a specific player category wants another negotiation after the fact, is inappropriate. Some agents are selling 'bad faith.'"

Taylor's agent, Malki Kawa, replied by saying, "Bad faith is not paying your top offensive player."

Although Irsay clarified on Thursday that his comments were not aimed at Taylor, that added layer of contention, plus a lack of discussion over rewarding one of the team's best, has apparently tipped the scale in favor of a trade as far as Taylor's view goes.

New head coach Shane Steichen, who was asked about Taylor's contract situation on NFL Network's Back Together Weekend moments before Rapoport's report, provided a by-the-numbers response.

"That's part of the business and my job is to be the head football coach of this team and go lead these guys," he said.

During the scrum in which Irsay held firm on not currently negotiating an extension, the owner was far more brash.

"I mean, if I die tonight and Jonathan Taylor's out of the league, no one's going to miss us," he told reporters. "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 part of it. Now's the time for us to do our work. Now's the time as an organization. And, you know, players who are 24, 25 years old, now's the time to seize the moment."

There are several ways this particular moment could play out in the month ahead.

Should Indy grant Taylor's request before the season, the team would need to regroup with the likes of Zack Moss, Deon Jackson, Jake Funk in the backfield and possibly another veteran free agent. A trade could provide some future draft ammo for a team in transition, but the windfall would need to be worth it, which could be difficult considering the apparent devaluation of running backs.

The Colts could also sit tight and compel the 2021 rushing champion to play out his rookie deal, a result that would certainly ease the learning curve of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Doing so could set up another standoff following the 2023 season, when Taylor would be able explore free agency if Indianapolis doesn't attempt to keep a back who requested a trade even longer by placing the tag on him.

There are many months to go before a more drawn-out situation like that would play out -- and plenty of time for the continued plight of RBs around the league to take further turns.

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