INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts say they are attempting to move forward with Jonathan Taylor in their plans even while admitting the relationship between the player and team is broken.
General manager Chris Ballard on Wednesday said the club wants to see its All-Pro running back return to the field this season but conceded there is significant fence mending still to do.
“I’m not going to sit here and give you some rosy picture, like, ‘Oh, everything’s okay,'” Ballard said. “It sucks for the Colts. It sucks for Jonathan Taylor. And it sucks for our fans. It just does. It’s where we’re at and we’ve got to work through it and we’re going to do everything we can to work through it. Relationships are repairable. They’re repairable.”
One day after declining trade offers for Taylor that multiple sources said did not meet the team’s desired threshold, Ballard outlined his current and past decisions on Taylor, who the team informed in May it would not be giving a contract extension this offseason. Taylor is entering the final season of his rookie contract.
Taylor requested a trade when reporting for training camp and, last week, was given permission to seek a trade partner. Now, he’s been moved to the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first four games of the season.
But his relationship with the team remains in a state of disrepair. Ballard on Wednesday tried to calm the situation.
“I want everybody to know, Jonathan is a well-respected and a really good human being and a damn good football player,” he said. “I think we all know this. Things like this happen. I tell every rookie that comes in, there’s going to be a point when we disagree and it’s usually about money and it’s going to be hard. And just know that doesn’t change my care level for you. I care deeply for Jonathan Taylor.
“I won’t quit on the relationship.”
Another thing the Colts will not do is pay him, at least for now. The Colts have not backed off that statement. They also, Ballard confirmed, have not eliminated the possibility of using the franchise tag on Taylor after this season – a reality that Taylor is wary of.
Asked whether he or the team could have done more to resolve the situation at any point, Ballard took a long pause before answering.
“That’s a fair question,” he said. “I’ve thought a lot about it… I felt I was very honest with all my discussions. I’ve thought through, what we could have done differently. I’m sure both sides would probably tell you, ‘Man, I wish I’d have done something a little bit differently.’ But the one thing I do know is it doesn’t do me any good or anybody any good to sit up and say, ‘It’s somebody else’s fault.'”
Taylor was placed on the PUP list because, Ballard said, he is “still having effects from last year’s [ankle] surgery and still having pain and not 100%. We’re not going to put a player on the field that’s still complaining of pain in the ankle.”
Taylor, Ballard said, will continue to rehab and there’s optimism he can return to the field soon.
But getting Taylor on the same page as the Colts – he still hasn’t rescinded his trade request – is a whole different matter, even if Ballard seems willing to try.
“If you ever in your life had a good friend, spouse, family member that you’ve had a disagreement with, [do you] then you draw a line in the sand and say, ‘This person’s out of my life?'” Ballard said. “Well, no. I mean, how do you do that?”