Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay tried to clarify his comments Thursday, saying a statement he made on Twitter this week regarding the salary structure for NFL running backs didn’t come down to his team’s dismayed all-pro back , Jonathan Taylor, aimed.
But Irsay also made a surprising revelation about the team’s approach to Taylor’s future. Irsay announced the team have not made an official offer to the 24-year-old star, who is entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract and is seeking a new deal.
Irsay took aim Wednesday of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris, who said the league’s top running backs are discussing the idea of changing the way franchise player salaries are determined, among other things , so elite backs make more money. Irsay dismissed the idea, saying, “Some agents sell ‘bad faith’.”
But the inappropriate comment came in the midst of Taylor’s increasingly impatient search for a new deal, and prompted an angry response from Taylor’s agent.
“The comment wasn’t actually directed at Jonathan,” Irsay said in a phone interview with ESPN. “We didn’t exchange any contract numbers or anything like that. So it’s not like we’re stuck in the middle. I think we had a tough season last year. We haven’t won many games.” This year is about getting back together and having a great year and we really need Jonathan to work with us [quarterback] Anthony Richardson will try to pull together to have a great year.”
Irsay’s unambiguous comments left no doubt that the Colts have no current intention of extending Taylor before he executes his deal.
“We love Jonathan, we need Jonathan,” Irsay said. “Our hope is that Jonathan has an outstanding year and that we have a good year as a team and then secure his next contract. That’s the hope. We think the world is about him as a person, as a player. It’s all a matter of timing. “When it’s time for you to get paid, you get paid.”
The team’s position likely fueled its relationship with Taylor, who last month responded to the running backs’ difficult negotiations in the league by saying, “You see why guys ask for trades. They just want to feel valued not only by their coaches but also by their teammates, but also the organization.”
Irsay stressed his team’s tradition of renewing the contracts of its star players, saying: “We have always paid our players. We’ve always believed in our core players signing second contracts. And we succeeded.” in the last 20, 25 years. So nothing has changed about that.”
However, there are numerous recent examples of the Colts adding core players to the current roster before their previous contracts ended. Center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Shaquille Leonard, offensive tackle Braden Smith and guard Quenton Nelson have all signed new contracts with their rookie deals still running for one season.
Taylor — who led the NFL in rushing rushing with 1,811 yards in 2021 — is expected to earn $4.304 million this season. That’s 18th among running back salaries in 2023. Taylor, who was placed on Tuesday’s offseason list after ankle surgery, has not spoken out since expressing his displeasure last month had announced.
His agent, Malki Kawa, declined comment Thursday but expressed Taylor’s frustration by responding to Irsay’s tweet, “Bad faith means not paying your top offensive player.” And on Thursday, Kawa wrote in a reply to one Tweeting about the possibility of improving the relationship between Taylor and the Colts, simply: “I doubt it.”