Irsay will spend $20 million to help Lolita, an orca whale, bringing her back to her original home in the Pacific Ocean after spending 53 years at the Miami Seaquarium.
“She’s healthy, I’ve got the money, let’s move her,” Irsay said in an interview on the “Pat McAfee Show” in mid-July.
While Irsay has appeared to have had this planned out for some time, it comes at an awkward moment. In late July, star running Jonathan Taylor went public with his trade demand as he’s reportedly sought a contract extension but has yet to receive an offer from the Colts.
With Taylor entering the final season of his four-year, $7.8 million rookie deal (in which he can make up to $4.3 million this year, per Spotrac), FOX Sports’ Craig Carton was one of many to question if Irsay should’ve spent some of that $20 million on the running back.
“It’ll cost him $20 million to airlift an orca out of the water where’s in captivity … and bring him to freedom,” Carson said. “But he won’t give Jonathan Taylor an extra $1 million. Just think about that. He’ll spend $20 million on a fish moving from one body of water to another. But he won’t give Jonathan Taylor an extra $1 million.”
The $20 million Irsay is spending to bring Lolita to freedom is nearly triple the salary Taylor could earn on his rookie deal and nearly five times the amount of how much he could earn this upcoming season.
It’s also roughly $4 million more than Christian McCaffrey‘s $16.02 million average annual salary, which is the highest average annual salary among all running backs. Taylor reportedly seeks to be paid in that ballpark.
The 2020 second-round pick has certainly played at the level of a top running back since he entered the league. He’s fourth in rushing yards (3,841) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (33) over the last three seasons.
As Plaxico Burress quipped that Taylor is like a “whale out of water,” he also joked that Irsay’s decision to pay the amount of money he’s spending at this time for a whale has “got to make him feel really good about himself.”
“Think for one second, if you’re Jonathan Taylor, you’re everything to the Indianapolis Colts. You’re a great player. A star running back. They’ve got a rookie quarterback. They need you. They know they need you,” Carton said. “Listen, a couple of extra million bucks and we’re good. I’m not trying to be greedy. I’m not trying to break the bank. Just a couple extra milly, right?
“And the owner goes, ‘Listen, I’ve got a choice: I can spend $20 million on moving a fish from this pond to that pond, or I could give you a couple extra million bucks? Hmm, let me think about my priorities in life. Orca, you’re saved! JT, sorry.'”
As Taylor’s situation with the Colts remains in flux while he’s on the physically unable to perform list, Indianapolis opted to sign a veteran running back for depth on Friday. The Colts added Kenyan Drake to their roster. Drake rushed for 482 yards and four touchdowns with the Ravens last season.
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