2013 NFL Free Agency: Steven Jackson to Packers or Falcons?
St. Louis Rams’ long-time running back Steven Jackson is being reported by ESPN to be voiding the final year of his contract so he can hit free agency in 2013. Jackson and the Rams were trying to reach a deal last season, but never happened. The Rams will now be relying on RB’s Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield going forward, should Jackson sign elsewhere.
The Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher have the youngest team in the league and seem to be intent on getting younger. It would seem that Fisher is trying to start fresh from the ground up and teach his way; which has been proven successful. It would also clear up roughly $7 million in salary for the Rams.
Jackson will be entering free agency as a running back who is about to turn 30 and has taken a beating over his career. Despite the constant beating and lack of offensive help over the years, Jackson has been very productive. He’s a big and powerful back who still has something to offer in the NFL. Having never played for a true contender, the motivation alone could be enough for another team to invest in for possibly two or three more years.
One team that immediately comes to mind is the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have been missing a true running threat since Ryan Grant’s breakout year. Jackson can bruise through the middle and has decent hands to be effective as a receiver coming out of the backfield. Adding Jackson’s dimension to the Green Bay offense is seemingly scary for any opposing defense. To me, this pairing seems the most logical for Jackson to pursue.
Another team that has already popped up in rumors is the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta is expected to cut ties with running back Michael Turner this off-season, and also was in the NFC title game this year. Should the interest be mutual, it could potentially be a dream matchup for both sides.
You can be sure Jackson will sign with a legit contender. He wants a chance to win a title so Green Bay and Atlanta would seem to be at the top of the list. Other teams that could be looking for a veteran running back presence that could express interest are the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite nearing 30 years old, Jackson has been a model of consistency. He hasn’t dipped under 1,000 rushing yards since his rookie season, and has remained a reliable, versatile weapon throughout his career. He should maintain RB2 value no matter where he wins up in 2013, albeit with a little risk due to age and a new offensive system.
On the flip-side, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead could have interesting value in St. Louis, while it’s also entirely possible the Rams bring in even more competition via free agency or the draft. Richardson is the more experienced and balanced of the two, however, so he should be regarded as having the early lead for the starting gig. If he holds onto it, he has RB2 upside for 2013.