Two seasons ago, Jonathan Taylor almost won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award. He was overshadowed by the historic season for Cooper Kupp, the Los Angeles Rams future, but Taylor had great form. He led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns. He was named All-Pro.
He is now 24 years old and available in the trade.
The Indianapolis Colts gave Taylor permission to seek a trade on Monday. We can argue about the value of running in the modern landscape, but if Taylor can get past the injuries that plagued him last season, it’s clear he can help many teams.
Here are the five teams that would get a big boost from adding Taylor to their offense:
Most teams following Taylor should consider themselves contenders. A team like the Arizona Cardinals would be better with Taylor, but he still wouldn’t sniff out the playoffs. It wouldn’t make sense to trade the assets on his behalf.
Crows should consider themselves a competitor. Baltimore changes their offense to be more pass heavy, but they still have to run a rushing offense due to the presence of quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore didn’t have any elites to pair up with Jackson. The Ravens has JK Dobbins, but he’s also unhappy, and he’s never been in the top ten. What would the Ravens offense look like with the cool running next to Jackson in the background? That could push Baltimore to a new level.
Miami doesn’t seem to be putting a lot of weight on the running back position, but adding a third playmaker to go with receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle is interesting. The Dolphins rely on those two receivers, but some of the pressure will be relieved if Taylor is on offense. It’s not like teams can cheat their safety to stop a running game, because Hill and Waddle will fire it up at the top. The Dolphins’ current crew of running backs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., and rookie D Von Achan aren’t overpowering to turn anyone away. It’ll work well enough because the offense as a whole is strong, but imagine Taylor running against all those high-safety looks.
The Bills don’t exactly swim in cap space, so this seems like a long shot. But the Bills offense is very heavy. Josh Allen carries most of the burden, Stefon Diggs is the only player at the skill position to have played at the Pro Bowl level, and there isn’t much else. Running back James Cook is an interesting young player, Damien Harris is a solid tackle runner, but neither is Taylor. The Bills are still in their Super Bowl window, and the addition of Taylor would add some much-needed balance.
The Bengals have been very lukewarm about running back Joe Mixon this season. He finally made a comeback, with a huge pay cut. His restructured two-year deal may prevent the Bengals from even considering making Taylor an offer. But Mixon’s numbers were low last season and the Bengals didn’t have much behind him. Cincinnati is clearly the contender. The Bengals have plenty of space, though they’re apparently setting aside some of that for Joe Burrow’s contract extension. Adding Taylor to the Bengals’ powerful offense would be an aggressive move, but it could push Cincinnati over the top in their title pursuit.
The Vikings moved from Dalvin Cook this offseason. His former assistant Alexander Matteson is slated to take over pitching duties, and he hasn’t done so in an entire season. He also never showed that he could be a dynamic player. The Vikings are coming off the NFC North title and seem content with a running back, though Mattison isn’t proven and there isn’t much depth of quality behind him. Taylor may help the Vikings fight the inevitable decline after their blissful success in 2022.