When will we see Jonathan Taylor in 2023? And which team will he be playing for?
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that trade talks for the Indianapolis Colts running back are expected to resume. Taylor is currently parked on the PUP list through at least Week 4, but Rapoport also reported that the 2021 NFL rushing champ is healthy and likely would be able to pass a physical today if one were required.
It's been quite the saga between Taylor and the Colts in 2023. Unhappy with his contract, the running back requested a trade in late July. Colts owner Jim Irsay initially indicated the team would not be trading Taylor, but the team granted the 24-year-old permission to seek a trade a few weeks later. After no deal was reached, Indy placed Taylor on PUP on Aug. 29 as he continued to recover from an ankle injury that ended his 2022 campaign in December and required offseason surgery.
Over his first three NFL seasons, Taylor racked up 3,841 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns while averaging a healthy 5.1 yards per carry. In the passing game, he added 104 receptions for 802 yards and three scores.
When healthy, Taylor is a top-five back, so it's definitely worth kicking the tires on the one-time All-Pro. Here are five teams that I believe should inquire about a potential trade for Taylor.
The Ravens lost J.K. Dobbins to a season-ending Achilles tear during their Week 1 win over the Texans. With Gus Edwards and Justice Hill on the active roster, head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the team would look in-house to replace Dobbins’ production. He mentioned calling up Melvin Gordon from the practice squad as a potential option. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’m not really buying it. The Ravens have championship aspirations in 2023, and while they routinely boast one of the best rushing attacks league-wide no matter who shares the backfield with Lamar Jackson, I still feel like they need another dynamic player on offense. Imagine this rushing attack with Jackson and Taylor. Baltimore would dominate defenses on the ground, and that threat would help open up new OC Todd Monken’s passing game. Come on, Baltimore -- do it!
The Bears have a lot of issues offensively, but fielding a consistent run game that doesn’t rely so much on Justin Fields would help immensely with the young quarterback’s development. With 59 rushing yards in Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, Fields has now led the Bears' ground attack in 10 of his last 12 games. A top-five back like Taylor would provide more balance to the running game and offense as a whole.
The Dolphins showed interest in bolstering their RB room with a veteran player in the offseason. They missed out on Dalvin Cook, who signed with the Jets, and were one of the teams that had extensive talks with the Colts about Taylor back in August. Miami still makes plenty of sense as a landing spot for Taylor. In its Week 1 road win over the Chargers, the Dolphins ran the ball 20 times for 70 yards, with a two-yard touchdown run by Raheem Mostert. The rushing attack featuring Mostert and Salvon Ahmed (De'Von Achane was inactive in Week 1 and Jeff Wilson Jr. is on injured reserve) lacks juice. The Dolphins have an explosive passing attack, but Taylor’s presence in the backfield could give Miami the NFL’s top offense.
It’s only been one week, but it seems like Dalvin Cook's absence is felt a little more than some expected. The Vikings rushed for a measly 41 yards(!) against the Buccaneers -- tied for the fewest in the league in Week 1 -- with first-year starter Alexander Mattison logging 34 yards on 11 carries. Even with a dynamic passing attack that features the best wide receiver in the game (Justin Jefferson), Minnesota must figure out how to run the ball to help open up the play-action pass. Sure, the three first-half turnovers also didn’t help in Sunday’s loss, but the lack of a run game is a huge concern. Moving forward with Mattison, Ty Chandler and Myles Gaskin (who was elevated to the active roster on Tuesday) likely won't cut it.
Tampa Bay started the season with a road win in Minnesota. The Buccaneers have a stout defense and a fine receiving duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but if they are to continue their success and win the NFC South for the third straight season, Baker Mayfield needs more help from a ground game that averaged just 2.2 yards per carry in the opener. Rachaad White is the current starter, with the Bucs also getting contributions from Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds. Taylor could be the element that helps this team stay at the top of the division and cements Mayfield's spot in Tampa moving forward.
Top 15 running backs
Former NFL rushing leader and current NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2023 season. His rankings are largely based on this season's efforts. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 2.
2023 stats: 1 game | 22 att | 152 rush yds | 6.9 ypc | 1 rush TD | 3 rec | 17 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
McCaffrey performed as expected in the 49ers’ season-opening win, with the highlight being the 65-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. CMC now has 21 career games with at least 150 scrimmage yards, the most by any player over the last 10 seasons.
2023 stats: 1 game | 10 att | 127 rush yds | 12.7 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 1 rec | 20 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Ooo-wee! I loved watching Hall zig and zag through the Bills’ defense, as he played a HUGE role in fueling an inspiring Jets victory after Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles tear on the first drive. With big play after big play, the second-year back accounted for more than half of the Jets’ total scrimmage yards -- on just 11 touches! Expect New York to rely heavily on Hall without Rodgers.
2023 stats: 1 game | 16 att | 117 rush yds | 7.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 4 rec | 47 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Ekeler occupied the expansive role I expected him to have in Kellen Moore’s offense, posting the third-most rushing yards in Week 1 and scoring the first points of the season for the Chargers. Ekeler’s 39 scrimmage touchdowns since 2021 are not only the most in the NFL -- they are 13 more than any other player!
2023 stats: 1 game | 18 att | 106 rush yds | 5.9 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 4 rec | 21 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
In Sunday’s romp over Cincinnati, Chubb ran for 106 yards and led the team with four receptions (all in the first half). Week 1 marked the second game in Chubb’s career with at least 100 rushing yards and four catches (the first came in Week 6 of 2019). Next up: a Steelers team that yielded a league-high 152 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey in Week 1.
2023 stats: 1 game | 9 att | 41 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 1 rush TD | 2 rec | 86 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Leading the team in rushing and receiving yards in Green Bay's Week 1 victory over rival Chicago, Jones’ health is now top of mind. He injured his hamstring on a 35-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter and did not return. If he misses time, the Packers' offense clearly will suffer.
2023 stats: 1 game | 18 att | 77 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 5 rec | 27 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Despite the preseason notion that Etienne could lose carries to rookie Tank Bigsby, the third-year back totaled 18 totes in the Week 1 road win at Indianapolis, eclipsing his average (14.7) in games started last season. (Bigsby had seven carries for 13 yards and a score, but also lost a fumble.) Etienne looked solid on Sunday, putting an exclamation point on his effort with a 26-yard touchdown run that gave the Jaguars a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
2023 stats: 1 game | 15 att | 63 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 2 rec | 56 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
The bell cow accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Titans’ scrimmage yards in their Week 1 loss to the Saints. Though he didn’t break a King Henry-sized run Sunday, he had an 18-yard scamper with another masterful stiff-arm -- and took a screen play for 46 yards in the first half. With QB Ryan Tannehill struggling mightily out of the gate, it looks like Henry’s going to need to put Tennessee on his back ... again.
2023 stats: 1 game | 15 att | 75 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 3 rec | 19 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
As much as everyone loves Bijan Robinson’s explosiveness, Allgeier is a much-needed presence in the Falcons’ rushing attack. He’s a steady workhorse who proved as much in Atlanta’s 24-10 victory over the division-rival Panthers, slightly outproducing the ballyhooed rookie. Keep an eye on this young duo moving forward. Allgeier and Robinson accounted for 177 of the Falcons’ 221 net yards and all three touchdowns.
2023 stats: 1 game | 21 att | 74 rush yds | 3.5 ypc | 1 rush TD | 0 rec | 0 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Montgomery was solid in his first game as a Detroit Lion, providing the offense with a steady, downhill effort that helped open up Ben Johnson’s passing attack. He was reliable early in the Lions' upset of the Chiefs, but his two biggest plays came in the fourth quarter, when he hit paydirt on a game-tying, 8-yard touchdown run and iced the win by converting on third-and-2 with less than two minutes to play.
2023 stats: 1 game | 14 att | 70 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 2 rec | 12 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Anyone who was left wondering if the Cowboys made the right move in letting Ezekiel Elliott go this offseason got their answer Sunday. Pollard shined in Dallas’ shellacking of the division-rival Giants, recording his fifth game with at least two scrimmage touchdowns since 2022.
2023 stats: 1 game | 16 att | 91 rush yds | 5.7 ypc | 1 rush TD | 0 rec | 0 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
I wasn't the least bit surprised to see Austin Ekeler put up big numbers in the Chargers' shootout loss to Miami. What was surprising, though, was just how much the Bolts ran the ball. Ekeler and Kelley had 16 carries apiece. Maybe that was an effort to keep the ball away from a Dolphins offense that ultimately racked up 536 yards. Nonetheless, I love to see running backs take advantage of their opportunities, and Kelley definitely did that with a career-high 91 rush yards.
2023 stats: 1 game | 18 att | 72 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 4 rec | 26 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 1 fumble lost
After signing a four-year, $25.4 million deal this offseason, Sanders demonstrated his worth in Week 1 by leading the team in rushing while also ranking in second in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He’ll need to continue putting up numbers as Bryce Young acclimates to the NFL game.
2023 stats: 1 game | 10 att | 56 rush yds | 5.6 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 6 rec | 27 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Also discussed in his teammates’ blurb above, the No. 8 overall pick looked explosive in both the run and pass games in his NFL debut. He was exceptional on this 11-yard screen play, breaking numerous tackles on his way to the end zone. Robinson’s Week 1 performance felt like just the beginning of a big-time role in Arthur Smith's offense.
2023 stats: 1 game | 9 att | 60 rush yds | 6.7 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 2 rec | 9 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
The Panthers looked to Hubbard for nine carries in Week 1; his robust average of 6.7 yards a pop is what caught my eye. Carolina has an underrated 1-2 punch in the backfield.
2023 stats: 1 game | 7 att | 42 rush yds | 6.0 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 2 rec | 18 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Gibbs was used in a variety of ways, just like Lions OC Ben Johnson said he would be. In Detroit's statement win over Kansas City, Gibbs was all over the field, taking 63 percent of his snaps out of the backfield but also lining up out wide, in the slot and in tight (including nine snaps in shift/motion), according to Next Gen Stats. The Lions allowed Gibbs to get his feet wet without asking too much of him in Week 1, but I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for the No. 12 overall pick.