Is a Jonathan Taylor trade to the Buffalo Bills likely? No. Is it something that most Bills fans would love to see? Sure. Well, if Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane does decide to go all in and snatch up the unhappy star running back from the Indianapolis Colts, here is the perfect trade the Bills must offer the Colts for the All-Pro back.

Damien Harris and a second-round pick is the perfect Jonathan Taylor-Bills trade

Jonathan Taylor is not happy with the Colts. He was one of the best offensive players in the league two seasons ago, and now he is in the final year of his rookie contract making $4.2 million with no satisfactory extension on the table.

He’s officially asked the Colts for a trade. The team’s owner, Jim Irsay, has flatly said no.

The Taylor situation is part of a bigger conversation about the running back market, their decreasing contracts, and why teams no longer see value in the position.

It is a complicated and nuanced situation, which boils down to this: While the running game in the NFL is still important, individual running backs aren’t. RB careers are short, and there is little to no value in giving a star back a massive second deal, especially when you can likely find a late-round rookie to provide similar production at a fraction of the cost.

Live and breathe the NFL?

🚨 Get viral NFL graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

So, for a franchise like the Colts with a rookie QB in Anthony Richardson and a team in transition, Irsay and GM Chris Ballard may feel it doesn’t make sense to give an RB a big contract. On the other hand, you can make an argument that having a rookie QB deal is the perfect time to pay a superstar RB for a few years, but that’s another conversation.

One situation where it may make sense to break the bank for a back is when a team is on the verge of championship contention, but lost last season due to a lack of talent compared to the top echelon of the league.

This is where the Bills find themselves in 2023, and why a Jonathan Taylor trade could make sense.

The Cincinnati Bengals embarrassed the Bills at home in the AFC Divisional Round last season, and one of the biggest reasons the AFC North team won is because they had more talent up and down the roster. The disparity was so great and so clear that Beane had to resort to taking shots at the Bengals organization after the fact to defend himself.

Another reason the Bills lost last season was the lack of a running game outside of quarterback Josh Allen. While Allen is one of the best running QBs in the league, the RB room of Devin Singletary, James Cook, and Zach Moss/Nyheim Hines didn’t get the job done.

This offseason, the Bills (sort of) addressed the position to hopefully get better results in 2023. They let Singletary go, signed former New England Patriots back Damien Harris, and are hoping last year’s second-round pick, Cook, makes a leap. Hines was also penciled in for a 3rd-down and kick return role this season but suffered a season-ending knee injury on a jet ski right before training camp.

To be clear, it’s not just the talent that hurt the Bills’ running game last season. First-time play-caller, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, needs to do a better job committing to the run, too, but maybe that will be easier with a true workhorse, three-down back at his disposal.

A Jonathan Taylor-Bills trade with the Colts could get done by sending Indy another veteran (much cheaper) back in Harris as well as a second-round pick in 2024. That’s not a ton to give up, but the Bills will also have to shell out a lot of money, so that’s a good return for the Colts.

How much money?

To make Taylor happy, the Bills would likely have to give him at least three years with a chance to get out relatively unscathed after two. They will have to cough up somewhere between the $10 million that is the RB franchise tag and the $16 million per season Christian McCaffrey is making.

A three-year, $42 million deal ($14 million per) is where the Taylor contract would probably have to end up for the Bills if they made a trade for him.

Is it worth it?

There is no way to answer that now. A move like this is an all-in gesture that signals the Bills are a Super Bowl or bust team for the next two years. And when that happens, you, unfortunately, have to judge the situation on the results. Just ask the Los Angeles Rams.

If Taylor helps the Bills win a Super Bowl, it is 100% worth it. If not, it is a bad move. However, we will likely never know, as there is almost zero chance Beane takes a big swing like this.