The NFL regular season has not yet begun, but with less than three weeks until kickoff, the rumor mill is in full swing. Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has been seeking a lucrative contract extension with the club, but with the news that the Colts have given him permission to seek a trade, it appears that Taylor will be playing somewhere other than Lucas Oil Stadium this year.
One of the betting favorites to land the disgruntled Colts star is the Chicago Bears. The Bears have over $14 million in cap space, plus an extra first- and fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft thanks to this past offseason's deals with the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles. They're also coached by Matt Eberflus, whose time as defensive coordinator of the Colts overlapped with Taylor's first two seasons of Indy.
Only a season removed from a 2021 coming-out party that saw him rack up over 2,000 all-purpose yards, it would be understandable for Bears fans to be clamoring to get Taylor in the Chicago backfield. Seems like a great match, right? In the words of the great Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend." Here are four reasons why the Bears should sit the Jonathan Taylor sweepstakes out.
The cost for the Chicago Bears to acquire Jonathan Taylor will be too high
Despite not being willing to meet Taylor's contract demands, the Colts are rumored to be looking for a hefty return as compensation in a trade. Meanwhile, league executives expect Taylor to net something in the range of a second or third-round pick. That price is certainly not inordinate for a player of Taylor's talent, but tougher to swallow is the cost of an extension which also has to be factored in.
The Bears are second in the NFL behind the Patriots in salary cap space over the next three years, but even with recent moves to improve the defense, such as the signings of Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Walker, and Yannick Ngoakue, the unit as a whole will be league average even in the best case scenario this season. That means that Ryan Poles will need to commit more money to that side of the ball, in addition to likely locking down Jaylon Johnson to a long-term deal and continuing to improve the offensive line.
The issue has been beaten to death in NFL media in recent years, but running backs just aren't valuable enough on their own to command a large portion of a team's salary cap. For as talented as Taylor and other backs (Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Austin Ekeler) seeking better paydays are, the difference they make to winning and losing real-life football games (not fantasy) is not as large as that of quarterbacks, defensive ends, and left tackles.
The Bears have been a losing team for a while now. In order to return to the playoffs and ensure long-term success, they need to be smart with how they spend their money. Ryan Poles already let David Montgomery walk to a division rival for $18 million over three years. Is Taylor better than Montgomery? Yeah, probably, but paying a running back over $10 million per year isn't the answer.