With the news today coming from Pete Prisco for CBS Sports that the St. Louis Rams have decided at his request to void the contract of running back Steven Jackson at the end of the season, making him a free agent, would the Rams be willing to trade him during the season while he still has some value rather than let him walk as a free agent? And as a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan and their pedestrian running game, my thoughts turned to whether or not they could be a suitor.
Jackson was drafted 24th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Oregon State and has been one of the hardest working backs in the league for all his 8+ seasons. His year in 2006 where he lead the league in yards per scrimmage with 2,334 yards is still an incredible feat. He’s a hard nosed running, a solid receiver out of the backfield, and the consummate professional and teammate. The news he wanted out of St. Louis came as no shock to me, and honestly I am surprised it didn’t happen years ago.
But would he be a good fit with the Steelers? They are scheduled to get running back Rashard Mendenhall back this week after 9 months recovering from a torn ACL last season, and in his absence the rushing offense has struggled to get traction. From a talent standpoint, I have no doubt Jackson could help, and his ability to run tackle to tackle fits what the Steelers want to do. Not to mention Jackson is very good at getting yards after contact, and with the way the Steelers offensive line has been playing, that is a required skill.
But what is the value of a player like Jackson? At this point, he is at 2,197 career carries and is presently playing while nursing a groin injury and while that sounds like a ton of carries, compared to other power backs in recent seasons like Eddie George and Jerome Bettis, he’s still got a couple of good seasons ahead of him, if you consider them comparable which I do.
So, if I am the Steelers what do I do? There are basically two schools of thought on it for me. First, you simply throw a minimal offer, say a 5th or 6th round pick to the Rams for Jackson and move on. Or you could really try and make a splash. The Rams are in desperate need of another weapon in the passing game for Sam Bradford, so why not package a wide receiver like Mike Wallace in the deal, and try and get the Rams first round pick in 2013? I realize option B is far fetched, but let a guy dream.
In the final analysis, it seems to make perfect sense to me for the Rams to try and get something for Jackson, rather than letting him walk. And the Steelers need a talented veteran presence even if it’s not a long term solution, in the short run could be very beneficial for all parties involved.
Should the Steelers make a move for Jackson? Come see me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know.