The Colts will keep Taylor on the physically unable to perform list, indicating a trade involving the star running back is not imminent, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday, per sources. The team later announced Taylor officially was placed on the PUP list.
Taylor will miss the at least first four games of the 2023 season due to starting the campaign on PUP.
Indianapolis granted Taylor, who was seeking an extension ahead of his final season under contract, permission to seek a trade eight days ago after initially refusing to take calls on the running back after he requested a trade in July. The increase in communication ultimately did not produce an enticing offer for the running back, though, and with the cutdown deadline arriving at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Colts decided to keep Taylor on PUP instead of occupying a roster spot.
Taylor first requested a trade following a meeting with Colts owner Jim Irsay, and spent the entirety of the preseason on PUP after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. He stepped away from the team briefly during camp before returning, then was excused from camp due to a personal matter. Taylor was seen in street clothes at the Colts’ joint practices with the Eagles last week on the same day in which the team granted him permission to seek a trade.
Despite this back-and-forth between appearing at the team facility and stepping away during camp, and Indianapolis’ vacillation between refusing to trade him and then considering it, little significant movement has occurred regarding Taylor’s standing with the club. Tuesday’s news means he won’t be available to head coach Shane Steichen for the first month of the season.
The Colts last week granted Taylor and his representatives permission to engage with other teams in an effort to find a trade partner, an atypical approach to shopping a player. The team issued a deadline of 4 p.m. Tuesday for a deal to come together, a timeline that lined up with the NFL’s deadline requiring teams to trim rosters from 90 to 53 players.
It also was a deadline for the Colts to make a determination on Taylor’s roster status, as he had been relegated to the active/physically unable to perform list until now. Taylor has not practiced or played in the preseason, having been sidelined since undergoing ankle surgery.
Taylor’s standoff with Indianapolis harks back to the team’s decision in May not to offer him a contract extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Taylor led the NFL in rushing in 2021 with more than 1,800 yards before struggling with multiple setbacks with his ankle last season. After seeing teammates like Shaquille Leonard and Quenton Nelson receive extensions with a full season remaining on their rookie deals, Taylor expected he’d receive the same treatment.
But when it became apparent the team was not interested in reconsidering its stance and as Taylor observed the financial landscape for elite running backs like Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley he began to dig in.
General manager Chris Ballard was asked about Taylor’s contract as training camp arrived. “We’ll make those decisions when we need to make those decisions,” he said.
Later that day, Taylor quietly requested a trade. The Miami Dolphins had been among the teams most intrigued by Taylor, but the Colts’ compensation requests they initially were seeking a first-round pick in exchange — proved too rich for the rest of the league.
The Colts’ running-back unit in Taylor’s absence consists of veterans Zack Moss and Deon Jackson and rookie Evan Hull. Moss, who is still recovering from a broken arm sustained in training camp, has never rushed for more than 481 yards in a single season. Jackson’s career high, set last season, is 236 rushing yards. The Colts released veteran Kenyan Drake on Sunday among several other players at the positions.
Lance’s immediate future is learning a new offense, which he acknowledged is much different from the scheme used by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. He will not be asked to do too much too soon behind Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush as he learns the Cowboys’ offense under Mike McCarthy, who worked with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Brett Favre and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers before joining the Cowboys.
“It was a little bit surreal for me hearing I was going to come here knowing everything about this historic organization,” Lance said. “Just compared to the 49ers, obviously you think of that as another one of the top-tier, historic organizations, but for me, just very excited to be here. Coach McCarthy and the entire coaching staff, man, nothing but knowledge being in all these meetings. It’s been awesome for me. It’s been fun. Kind of a breath of fresh air to learn a new offense and being around the guys the last two days. I feel like I’ve learned so much just ball.”
Lance connected with Prescott for the first time on Tuesday, although they have met before. When Lance suffered a severe ankle injury last year, Prescott, who suffered a dislocated and fractured right ankle in 2020, reached out to him.
The Colts placed him on PUP at the onset of training camp for his ankle, which he had surgically repaired in January. He didn’t practice this training camp or offseason. He missed six games and was limited in others last season with a high-ankle sprain.
According to The Indianapolis Star, Taylor had a procedure called arthroscopic debridement, with a return to play of two to four weeks. But he hasn’t participated in football activities for the Colts in more than eight months, last playing on Dec. 17 against the Minnesota Vikings.
So his injury timeline remains unclear. Earlier this month, Taylor spent time rehabbing away from the team.
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