Colts RB Jonathan Taylor signs 3-year, $42M extension, sources say

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts' most dangerous offensive player is back and getting paid.

Running back Jonathan Taylor signed an extension with the Colts on Saturday, the team announced. Sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the three-year, $42 million extension includes $26.5 million guaranteed and makes Taylor one of the NFL's highest-paid running backs.

Taylor also was removed from the physically unable to perform list Saturday and has no injury designation, clearing him to make his season debut Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

The new deal makes Taylor the first running back to land a long-term contract worth $10 million or more per year since Nick Chubb in 2021 -- almost 800 days ago.

"I greatly appreciate the support of my teammates and Colts fans," Taylor said in a statement. "I can't wait to get back on the field and do everything I can to help bring this city the championship it deserves. I'm proud to be an Indianapolis Colt."

Taylor had been seeking a new contract since early in the offseason, when he was told by the Colts they had decided to hold off on signing the 2021 NFL rushing champion to an extension. That touched off a dispute between the team and Taylor, who had been seeking more security after playing while hurt for much of the 2022 season.

After months of animosity, Colts owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard, director of football administration Mike Bluem and Jonathan Taylor's representatives, Malki Kawa and Ethan Lock, finally came together and successfully negotiated a contract extension.

"It's been a journey," Irsay told reporters Saturday. "Jonathan and I talked about this contract and being able to live with it for four years. ... He was good with that and understood that. It was difficult because it's a player coming off an injury.

"I know these things can get difficult, but Jonathan's a great young man."

The Colts opened Taylor's window to return from the PUP list Wednesday, initiating a 21-day period during which they could activate him to the 53-man roster. But Taylor needed just two days of practice to show he was ready to play against the Titans, the Colts' AFC South rivals who have won the past five meetings.

Coach Shane Steichen praised Taylor's performance and conditioning after evaluating him.

"He looked good," Steichen said Friday. "Conditioning-wise, he looked good. Again, it's been a while since he's been out there, but he looked good the last couple days."

Irsay did say the Colts would look to "ease" Taylor in with fewer carries than usual against the Titans.

Taylor, 24, had not played or practiced with the Colts since December, when he was placed on injured reserve with a recurring ankle injury. He underwent surgery on the ankle in January but complained of lingering pain when he reported to training camp, saying he needed additional rehab. That played out while Taylor was in the midst of his contract fight with the Colts and led the running back to request a trade.

He had been quiet about his future in Indianapolis when speaking with reporters Thursday, answering, "I'm here right now," and saying he had been focused on getting healthy.

Steichen was unmoved when asked about Taylor having not taken a hit since he last played and missing all of training camp.

"If he plays on Sunday, obviously [it will be] the first time getting hit in a while," Steichen said. "But again, he did a good job running the football, seeing the holes. Shoot, he's a veteran player. He's played a lot of football and he looked good."

There has been significant pushback from running backs in recent months because of what they describe as an effort by teams to devalue the position. Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants and Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders each received the franchise tag in the spring and spent the offseason holding out for long-term extensions from their teams. Neither got a multiyear deal.

Taylor has been one of the NFL's most dangerous offensive players since the Colts drafted him in the second round in 2020. He set franchise single-season rushing records with 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2021. Taylor has 3,841 rushing yards in his three seasons -- fourth most since he entered the league.

"At the end of August, I spoke about the importance of relationships and being able to move forward," Ballard said in a statement. "We were able to reach that point. We know what Jonathan means to this team and this city. He is an exceptional playmaker, and he has given a tremendous amount to our organization. This is the result we all wanted."