Colts owner Jim Irsay says RB comments not aimed at Jonathan Taylor; adds no contract talks have occurred thus far

A day after opining that running backs’ calls for another negotiation of pay were unsuitable, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay explained that his social media comments were not directed at Indy back Jonathan Taylor. However, in doing so in comments made to ESPN, Irsay revealed Thursday that no contract talks have been had with Taylor, who’s entering the final season of his rookie deal.

“The comment wasn’t really directed at Jonathan,” Irsay said, via ESPN’s Stephen Holder. “We haven’t exchanged any contract numbers with each other or anything like that. So, it’s not like we’re in the midst of that. I think we had a tough season last year. Didn’t win a lot of games. This is a year about coming back together and having a great year and we’re really depending on Jonathan to team up with [quarterback] Anthony Richardson to try and pull together to have a great year.”

On Wednesday, Irsay posted a statement on social media that stood in opposition to running backs around the NFL discussing a potential collaboration in the hopes of better overall pay for the position.

“NFL (r)unning (b)ack situation – We have negotiated a CBA, that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides,” Irsay posted. “To say now that a specific (p)layer category wants another negotiation after the fact, is inappropriate. Some (a)gents are selling ‘bad faith.'”

Irsay’s original statement came after Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris spoke out earlier Wednesday about the league’s top backs looking into changing the way in which franchise-tagged players’ salaries were determined with the hope of top-tier rushers making top-tier money.

Irsay’s bad-faith criticism quickly drew the social media ire of Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, who turned the statement around in tweeting, “Bad faith is not paying your top offensive player.”

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Though Irsay attempted to clarify that his comments were not aimed at Taylor, it would seem they would do little to quell any issues regarding a payday ahead for the star back, who’s due to make $4.30 million in base salary this year.

The Colts owner also appears to indicate that Richardson, the team’s No. 4 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, has the reins of the offense going forward, though no starter has been named between him and Gardner Minshew. Irsay has commented previously that he believes Richardson needs to play early this season, although he mentioned it was ultimately rookie head coach Shane Steichen’s call to make.

The timing of Irsay’s social media post on Wednesday was hardly ideal as it relates to Taylor, but the owner said Thursday his 2021 All-Pro rusher is a product of an inopportune timetable, as well.

Taylor was the 2021 NFL rushing leader in an 1,811-yard showing in which his dynamism delighted the NFL world. However, the Colts are now coming off a disastrous 4-12-1 season in which Taylor missed six games due to an ankle injury.

“We love Jonathan, we need Jonathan,” Irsay said. “Our hope is Jonathan has an outstanding year and that we have a good year as a team and then we get his next contract done. That’s the hope. We think the world of him as a person, as a player. It’s just timing. When your time comes to get paid, then you get paid.”

According to Irsay, his Wednesday comments were not directed as his running back, but his comments Thursday certainly did not illuminate Taylor’s hopes for a lucrative extension anytime soon.

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