After clearing the final hurdle for Jonathan Taylor's awaited return, the Indianapolis Colts are ensuring the star running back will remain in Indianapolis for the foreseeable future.
The Colts and Taylor have agreed to terms on a three-year, $42 million contract extension that includes $26.5 million guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday, per a source.
Indianapolis has since announced Taylor's extension.
"I want to thank Jim Irsay and his family, Chris Ballard, and coach Steichen for the opportunity to be part of this organization's future," Taylor said Saturday, via the team's website. "I greatly appreciate the support of my teammates and Colts fans. I can't wait to get back on the field and do everything I can to help bring this city the championship it deserves. I'm proud to be an Indianapolis Colt."
Taylor's extension will make him the third highest-paid RB in the NFL on a per year average ($14 million), according to Over The Cap. Only 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey ($16 million) and Saints RB Alvin Kamara ($15 million) will earn more per year.
It also ends what had been a contentious storyline between the All-Pro RB and the club in 2023.
Taylor, who was entering the final year of his rookie contract, had been seeking a new deal since the offseason while recovering from offseason ankle surgery. As training camp began with no offer on the table, the RB requested a trade from the team on July 29. A standoff persisted after several excused absences from camp, and the Colts finally gave Taylor permission to seek a trade on Aug. 21, bringing more doubt to the situation.
With no trade materializing, Taylor remained on the PUP list as the season approached, which guaranteed he'd miss the first four games of the 2023 season. Taylor returned to practice this week and spoke for the first time since his offseason contract squabble with the organization, though he declined to get discuss his future with the Colts.
Evidently, the situation was actively being resolved behind closed doors.
"I'm thrilled we were able to reach an agreement with Jonathan," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "At the end of August, I spoke about the importance of relationships and being able to move forward. We were able to reach that point. We know what Jonathan means to this team and this city. He is an exceptional playmaker, and he has given a tremendous amount to our organization. This is the result we all wanted."
Taylor's ankle injury marred the follow-up to his breakout second season in 2021, when he became the league's rushing champion with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. The 24-year-old fought through the injury the best he could in 2022, appearing in 11 games (861 yards, four TDs), but the burst just wasn't there and it added to a forgetful season in Indianapolis that featured the midseason firing of Frank Reich.
The Colts (2-2) have exceeded expectations amid Taylor's absence in 2023, with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson leading the charge with 610 total yards (479 passing, 131 rushing) and seven total TDs (four rushing, three passing) in three starts. Zack Moss has also done well filling in for Taylor, gaining 280 rushing yards and and two scores in three games.
It's an indication of the offensive stability Colts head coach Shane Steichen has already brought to Indianapolis in the early portion of his first season. With Taylor's contract situation now mended, Steichen and the Colts can look forward to showing what the future has in store starting Sunday against the Titans.
"Part of the reason I took this job was to work with a player like Jonathan Taylor," Steichen said following the announcement of Taylor's extension. "He adds an explosive element to our offense and his success on the field over the last three seasons is undeniable. I'm excited for the role he'll play on this team as we continue to build."