Colts owner Irsay: Top RBs' call for reopening deal talks 'inappropriate'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts owner Jim Irsay does not seem interested in rethinking the NFL's approach to handling running backs amid protests by elite players at the position over their contract negotiations.

Irsay, in an apparent reply to suggestions the NFL should reshape its approach to franchise tags that has running backs at the low end of the pay scale, said owners should consider no such thing.

"We have negotiated a CBA, that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides," Irsay wrote Wednesday on social media. "To say now that a specific player category wants another negotiation after the fact, is inappropriate. Some agents are selling 'bad faith.'"

Irsay's remarks came after comments by Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris from earlier Wednesday, with the Pro Bowl ball carrier sharing some of what was discussed among a group of top running backs during a recent videoconference aimed at finding solutions to the compensation challenges at the position. Harris revealed that the group spoke to NFL Players Association officials about one hypothetical resolution: using franchise tag numbers that are not assigned by position.

Running backs who are assigned the franchise tag are slotted for a one-year salary that is less than any other position player: $10.091 million. Only kickers and punters, at $5.393 million, receive less via the franchise tag. For context, quarterbacks, cornerbacks, wide receivers, offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers all receive franchise numbers in excess of $18 million.

But Irsay, who is on the NFL's finance committee, clearly views changing the current structure to be a nonstarter. Owners would be unlikely to engage in such a conversation given how much of an advantage the franchise tag has been for NFL clubs.

The state of economics among running backs continues to be a story given the rash of recent flash points between certain backs and their teams. Among those is the standoff between Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants and the situation in Las Vegas, where Raiders star Josh Jacobs has yet to sign his franchise tender and, thus, has declined to report to training camp.

Meanwhile, the Colts' star running back -- Jonathan Taylor -- has seen his request for a new contract go unfulfilled, even after he went public with his displeasure last month. Taylor was placed on the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, and he cannot practice until he is activated.

Malki Kawa, Taylor's agent, responded to Irsay's dismissal of new contract talks later Wednesday by saying, "Bad faith is not paying your top offensive player."

General manager Chris Ballard, speaking Tuesday, hardly suggested an extension is forthcoming.

"We're coming off a four-win season, we have a new coaching staff, so we'll kind of let it play out as it does and make those decisions when we need to make those decisions," Ballard said.