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Should Rams repeat history and trade for a Colts star running back?

Should the Los Angeles Rams consider a trade for Jonathan Taylor

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 1999 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams made arguably one of the best trades in NFL history. For just a second and a fifth-round pick, the then St. Louis Rams acquired star running back Marshall Faulk from the Indianapolis Colts.

Heading into the 1999 NFL Draft, Faulk was looking to renegotiate his contract with the Colts despite there being two years left on his deal. The Colts began searching for a trade partner and after some failed attempts, found one in the Rams.

At this point, it’s widely known what happened with Faulk. He went on to become the center piece of the Greatest Show on Turf as he won three Offensive Player of the Year awards and an MVP. Faulk became a Hall of Fame player in one of the best offenses of all-time.

Heading into a contract year, current Colts running back, Jonathan Taylor is looking to renew his deal at just 24 years of age.

Throughout this offseason, there has been a lot of drama surrounding the running back position and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The value of the position has diminished and the players aren’t getting paid what they think that they’re worth.

Saquon Barkley finally signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants while Josh Jacobs continues to hold out. Players like Dalvin Cook and Kareem Hunt have yet to sign anywhere. These are players that 10-15 years ago, teams would have been lining up at the door to sign to large contract extensions.

The drama doesn’t end there.

In the midst of a contract negotiation with Taylor, Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted on Wednesday that it was ‘inappropriate’ to question why the running back position was seemingly being devalued in the NFL this offseason and that “some agents are selling ‘bad faith.’”

Some might argue that it was inappropriate for Irsay to tweet something like that while negotiating a contract with one of his players of the position in question. As SB Nation’s James Dator said, “Jim Irsay insulting Jonathan Taylor is a bold approach towards his best player.”

Nonetheless, the drama didn’t stop.

Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa responded to Irsay. Quote-tweeting NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Kawa said, “I doubt it,” in reference to whether or not the relationship between Taylor and the Colts can be fixed.

Heading into the last year of his deal and with the relationship presumably shattered, it’s fair to wonder what Taylor’s future in Indianapolis looks like. Will he play out the last year of his deal and then hit free agency? After this season, will the Colts simply franchise tag their star running back so that they remain in control of the situation? Or the most interesting situation, would the Colts look to trade Taylor before Week 1 or even looking at the trade deadline during the season?

That last scenario is one worth monitoring, especially in relation to the Rams.

It’s obvious at this point that general manager Les Snead isn’t afraid to make a move, especially when star caliber players become available. The Rams did this most notably with Jalen Ramsey, but Marcus Peters and Dante Fowler Jr. can be thrown in that conversation as well.

It’s also no secret that the Rams were in the running back sweepstakes last year at the trade deadline. As we wrote last season, Los Angeles was involved in the Christian McCaffrey trade discussions. The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue reported at the time that the Rams may have done a second, future third, and maybe a player. However, they weren’t going to get into a back and forth to inflate terms past what they felt reasonable. That’s when the San Francisco 49ers came out on top and won the McCaffrey sweepstakes.

Trading for a running back may not well-advised, especially in the current climate of the position. With that said, McVay has shown what an elite caliber running back can do in his system. Look no further than Todd Gurley’s 2017 and 2018 seasons. Taylor has some of the same skillsets without the extensive injury history.

This may be a situation worth monitoring, especially if Taylor is still on the Colts near the trade deadline. If the Rams survive the early part of the season and are in the hunt, Snead could be itching to make a move. Unlike last year, they will have draft assets at their disposal as well.

That’s not to mention that next offseason, the Rams enter an interesting situation with Cam Akers. They technically have control as he will be a restricted free agent. At the same time, they could easily relinquish his rights to another team or allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. If Akers struggles to begin the year and the Rams are looking for an offensive boost with a 3-3 record, Taylor is an option. He’s also only 24 years old so he fits their current roster build.

To be clear, this isn’t to say that the Rams should make this trade or give up their 2024 first-round pick to acquire Taylor. In the current NFL landscape, giving up assets for a running back wouldn’t be considered a smart move. While the 49ers didn’t lose a regular season game following the McCaffrey trade, the quarterback position still ended up being their downfall. In that same tone, the Rams have many more problems on their roster outside of running back. Fixing the offensive line would go a long way in fixing the run game.

Could history repeat itself and the Rams trade for another Colts star running running back? Only time will tell. At the very least, it might be something worth keeping an eye on over the next few months.