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General Manager Update

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General manager Chris Ballard explains where things stand with Colts, Jonathan Taylor in preseason press conference

The Colts placed Taylor on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday, meaning the running back will not be eligible to play until Week 5 of the 2023 season. 

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Colts general manager Chris Ballard held his annual preseason, post-roster-cuts press conference on Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, and discussed at length where things stand with running back Jonathan Taylor.

Here are some key things Ballard said, with context:

The quote: "We're not going to put a player on the field that's still complaining with pain in the ankle. I'm not going to do that. I wouldn't do that to any player. I wouldn't treat anybody any different. So what Jonathan will do is he will rehab his butt off and try to get himself ready to go."

Context: The Colts shifted Taylor from the Active/PUP list to the Reserve/PUP list before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline for rosters to be cut to 53 players. With the move, Taylor is not eligible to play in the Colts' first four games of the 2023 season.

Taylor battled through ankle injuries during the 2022 season before landing on injured reserve after Week 15, and underwent surgery on his ankle in January. He did not participate in on-field work during OTAs or minicamp this spring, and was placed on Active/PUP after reporting to training camp on July 25, allowing the Colts to shift him to Reserve/PUP on Tuesday.

Had the Colts placed him on injured reserve, he would've had to be on their initial 53-man roster then placed on injured reserve (as the team did with tight end Jelani Woods on Wednesday). Players who are carried on the initial 53-man roster are eligible to return from IR during the season; those placed on IR prior to roster cuts (like center Danny Pinter) are, by rule, considered out for the season.

"I don't know if there is anything that is a routine surgery," Ballard said. "I think any time you have surgery on your body it's different and I think everybody heals, rehabs – everybody is different. Like you can't just stamp one thing and say, this guy is – everybody is just different. There are guys that some get back faster, some guys don't."

The quote: "We've given guys early extensions, we've given guys extensions before they went into their fifth year, we've given guys extensions who have played their contracts completely out and have gone into free agency and signed them back, we've let guys go all four years and then they ended up signing good contracts somewhere else. I think every situation is a little bit different. And I explained this during camp, coming off last season, it's tough. You won four games, you've got a brand new coaching staff and all the circumstances surrounding it. So, I think every situation is different."

Context: The Colts in years past have inked extensions with players including Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith, Mo Alie-Cox, Grover Stewart, Shaquille Leonard, Zaire Franklin, EJ Speed and Kenny Moore II to extensions before hitting unrestricted free agency at different points in the NFL calendar. However, those players were all signed under circumstances different to the ones facing the Colts right now.

"The way the (4-12-1 2022) season went, where we were at and where we were going forward, a new coaching staff, we had some reasons," Ballard said. "Nothing major, but there were reasons. We thought we needed to just sit tight."

And Ballard pushed back on the suggestion the Colts not signing Taylor to an extension prior to Wednesday signals the team isn't willing to reward its own players.

"Go ask Ryan Kelly," Ballard said. "Go ask all the other guys in that locker room, go ask them. We've extended a bunch and we've done them at all different time levels. Quenton Nelson went all the way into his fifth season when we were about to start the season. Everybody is a little bit different, every situation is a little bit different. To sit here and say and try to make a statement that we don't take care of our players – don't agree with that at all."

The quote: "Sometimes, both sides are beating your head against a wall and you need to see what's out there. You need to see what's out there."

Context: Ballard confirmed the Colts allowed Taylor and his camp permission to seek a trade, though he declined to get into hypotheticals for the future, saying "right now, Jonathan Taylor is a Colt." Allowing Taylor to seek a trade gave him the opportunity to test his market, though the Colts also were not going to take a sub-par return for him in a trade.

"I'm not going to get into details of why, what was offered or where we're at," Ballard said. "At the end of the day, he is a really good player. If somebody is going to trade for him, I think that needs to be valued correctly."

The quote: "I want everybody to know, Jonathan is a well-respected and really good human being and a damn good football player. I think we all know this. Things like this happen. I tell every rookie that comes in here, 'There's going to be a point when we disagree, and it's usually about money and it's going to be hard. And just know that doesn't change my care level for you.'

"I care deeply for Jonathan Taylor. I have great respect for Jonathan Taylor. Our relationship I would tell you is – look, even when it gets hard, I won't quit on the relationship. I won't do it. I think too much of the young man. I think too much of what he's given our organization and how hard he's played for us.

"The situation sucks. I'm not going to sit here and give you some rosy picture like everything is OK. No, it sucks. It sucks for the Colts, it sucks for Jonathan Taylor and it sucks for our fans. It does. It's where we're at and we've got to work through it, and we're going to do everything we can to work through it.

"Relationships are repairable. They're repairable. Guys get emotional and take a stance. You've got to be able to work through those. Have you ever in your life had a good friend, spouse or family member that you've had a disagreement with and then you draw a line in the sand and say, 'This person is out of my life.'? Well no, I mean, how do you do that? No, you work through it and hopefully you come out the other side better because of it."

Context: Ballard emphasized over his 40-minute press conference that he's not willing to give up on Taylor – from his relationship with the Colts to his future with the organization. Trading him for a lackluster return wouldn't have been in the best interest of the team, Ballard said. But what's in the best interest of the team is continuing to try to find a path forward with the 2021 first-team AP All-Pro running back.

"We've got work to do, we do," Ballard said. "We've got work to do on the relationship and we've got work to do to find a solution to the problem, which is what we're going to do."

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