The Miami Dolphins have an opportunity to upgrade their offense prior to the start of the 2023 season, but it would likely come at a costly price.
The Indianapolis Colts gave running back Jonathan Taylor, an All-Pro in the 2021 season, permission to seek a trade on Monday. The Dolphins are among the handful of teams that have called the Colts about the former second-round pick.
According to ESPN’s Stephen Holder, the Colts have engaged with two teams on actual offers for Taylor. Six teams have reportedly inquired.
Taylor is in the final season of his rookie contract, and Colts owner Jim Irsay has been reluctant to give him a new deal. It makes sense given the short shelf lives of most running backs, but Taylor might be a different breed.
The Colts running back led the NFL in rushing yards (1,811), rushing touchdowns (18) and yards from scrimmage (2,171) in the 2021 season while carrying the ball 332 times. He was an absolute workhorse, carrying the Indianapolis offense.
Last season, Taylor was limited to just 11 games, and the impact on Indy’s offense was obvious. The team was second to last in points scored in the NFL in the 2022 season, showing just how important Taylor is to its success.
Even though he was limited by injuries in 2022, Taylor finished the season with 192 carries for 861 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games.
So, the Dolphins have a chance to add one of the best players at the running back position to an already potent offense.
Miami was in the market for a running back this offseason, as the team tried to bring in free agent Dalvin Cook before he signed with the New York Jets. That and the recent injury to rookie De’Von Achane might be some of the reasons why Miami is pursuing Taylor.
Right now, the team’s running back depth chart features Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Achane. None of those players have even come close to a season like the one Taylor had in the 2021 campaign.
In fact, those five backs have combined for zero 1,000-yard rushing seasons at the NFL level.
Should the Dolphins trade for Taylor? It’s much tougher than a simple yes or no answer. Here are the pros and cons in trading for the star tailback.
The pros of trading for Jonathan Taylor
There are obvious positives to trading for Taylor, as he would give Miami some of the most dynamic playmakers in the league among himself, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
1. Taylor is a dual-threat player
A dual-threat back, Taylor would take some pressure off of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Having a do-it-all running back would allow Tagovailoa to rely on Taylor at times rather than win games with his arm.
Even though a lot of the damage in Taylor’s amazing 2021 season was done on the ground, he’s shown he is a capable receiver.
In three seasons, Taylor has racked up 104 catches for 802 yards and three scores. He’s made at least 28 catches in each season (the 28 was in 2022 when he played just 11 games).
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel would likely have a field day scheming ways to get Taylor the ball, and it also would help take pressure off of Hill and Waddle on the outside with teams having to worry about the run game even more.
2. Chemistry with the roster
Taylor has a major connection with the Dolphins, as he and fullback Alec Ingold were teammates in college at the University of Wisconsin.
Not only could that help Taylor acclimate himself to the team easily, but he and Ingold should also be on the same page when it comes to sharing the backfield in certain formations.
3. Fitting Miami’s timeline
Even though running backs don’t have the longest careers, Taylor has been in the NFL for just three seasons and is only 24 years old.
It’s worth noting that running backs like Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley that have either been released or had contract disputes with their respective franchises all were first-round picks. This means that they had five-year deals on their rookie contracts, since first-rounders have fifth-year options.
All of those players received second deals, so Taylor could still be productive into a second contract because he has only played three NFL seasons so far. Miami shouldn’t completely shy away from him just because the position isn’t valued as much these days.
The cons of trading for Jonathan Taylor
There are some great reasons to trade for Taylor, but there are also some cons.
1. Indianapolis’ asking price
Indianapolis reportedly wants a first-round pick in exchange for Taylor – or a package that equates to a first-round pick.
Source: The Colts are seeking a first-round pick — or package of picks that equates to as much — in a potential Jonathan Taylor trade.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 21, 2023
That might be a little too much to give up for a player who has one year remaining on his deal, which means Miami may have to commit to an extension with Taylor before parting ways with that type of draft capital.
That could open some more issues.
2. Extending Taylor could be pricey
Since he is one of the game’s best running backs, Taylor is likely looking to be paid like one in a new deal. Right now, the two highest paid running backs in the league are Christian McCaffrey (making about $16 million per season) and Alvin Kamara (making about $15 million per season).
Does Miami want to commit that much money to Taylor?
The team has other extensions it will have to worry about in the near future, including ones for star defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, and of course, Tagovailoa.
That puts some serious pressure on the Dolphins, as they risk upsetting Wilkins if they trade for and extend Taylor but don’t get a deal done with him. Plus, it could put Miami in a precarious situation financially in the future to have a running back with a high cap hit.
3. Is Taylor just a luxury?
Sure, Taylor would immediately be Miami’s best running back, but the team has invested in the position already this offseason, bringing back most of its running back room from last season and adding Achane in the draft.
The Dolphins were 11th in points scored and sixth in total yards last season, so they may not need as much help on that side of the ball as it seems.
Adding Taylor would be great, but it may not be necessary given some of the other drawbacks.
It’s not an easy choice, but I think adding Taylor may not be worth it given the asking price.
It would help, but it doesn’t guarantee the team a top seed in the playoffs.
Miami may be better off using a first-round pick on a running back in the 2024 NFL Draft (if the team wants a running back that bad) rather than trading one for Taylor when it is going to have to pay him a major salary in an extension.
Taylor’s talent is unquestioned, but Miami has more important positions where it should use the money and draft capital that it would sacrifice to acquire Taylor.