Bitter words, a trade demand and a $42 million extension: How Jonathan Taylor, Colts found common ground

How Jonathan Taylor and the Colts agreed on a new contract


INDIANAPOLIS — Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was working out around Wednesday afternoon as he prepared to gear up for his first padded session of the season.

It’s a big day because it marks the first hurdle toward extended playing time he faces against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), when he steps up in the second match of the season.

“One more step,” Taylor said, smiling at the prospect of further touching. He had seven in his debut in Week 5. “I couldn’t wait to attack today.”

This scene seemed impossible not so long ago. Taylor’s enthusiasm, his mere presence on the roster and, most importantly, his new three-year contract are unlikely to be certain before it all becomes reality.

Six weeks ago, Colts general manager Chris Ballard described the complex contract dispute between Taylor and the team with rare transparency, saying: “I’m not going to sit here and give you a rosy picture like: “ Oh, everything is fine.” It’s bad for the Colts. It’s bad for Jonathan Taylor. And it’s bad for our fans. »

So how did the contract impasse that led to commercial demands and frustration on both sides lead to progress creating the $42 million extension that Taylor signed last week?

As one team source summarized, it comes down to a simple concept:
“Ego versus results.” In other words, for both parties, inflexible goals must give way to achieving the best results. “There is a lot of work to be done to repair the mind and the heart,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay. “Everyone has their heart in the right place, but that’s not always the case.”

This has proven very true in recent months. The situation sparked by the Colts’ decision to deny Taylor’s request for a contract extension in the spring turned into a full-blown public outburst after Taylor reported to training camp in July. Taylor made a trade request the day he arrived. Afterwards, Irsay and Taylor’s representative, Malki Kawa, exchanged hostile comments on social media. Taylor even left camp twice.

After briefly allowing Taylor to seek a trade — but ultimately rejecting existing offers — the Colts placed Taylor on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a previous ankle injury. The decision means Taylor will miss the first four games, giving teams time to determine how to proceed. But progress still depends on the ability of all parties to overcome their feuds.

Some sources say that step by step has been taken in this direction. First, Ballard contacted Kawa in an attempt to cool the situation. Keep in mind that this happened even after Ballard learned multiple times that Taylor no longer wanted to play for the Colts. According to some sources, Ballard’s icebreaker helped improve communication.

However, Taylor is not really part of the team at this time. He will undergo rehabilitation at the team’s facility before daily practice, then leave without attending offensive meetings (an approach that has been worked out, according to team sources). agree with the team). He doesn’t even attend Colts home games.

But once in the building, Taylor began having deeper conversations with coach Shane Steichen. Those conversations proved crucial, Taylor said. Through discussions, they discovered what they had in common.

“We both wanted to win,” Taylor said. They were all amazed by rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson’s potential and Taylor wanted to be a part of the young midfielder’s success. Richardson was placed on injured reserve this week, but he was off to an excellent start before spraining his shoulder.

“We have the same feelings as [Richardson],” Taylor said. “I want

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