There have been plenty of whispers already regarding the future of St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. The veteran has yet to make his decision known on the status of an impending contract option that he has for the 2013 season. Most around the Rams expect that the lifelong Ram will exercise that option and test the free agent waters this offseason. For the Rams, that might not be such as bad thing.
While having Jackson be a Ram for life is sentimentally appealing, that just doesn’t happen much in sports these days. Players want to chase that elusive championship in some cases while other times teams just can’t afford to continue paying top dollar for a player with declining skills. With Jackson slated to earn the fifth-highest salary among all running backs heading into the 2013 season, the Rams just can’t justify paying that much to a player who gained the 15th most yards on the ground a year ago.
When S-Jax eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier for the eighth consecutive season last year, that accomplishment was truly a double-edged sword. On one hand, the consistency to gain that many yards on a year after year basis is truly impressive. On the other, Jackson’s 2,802 career touches mean that he has an awful lot of wear and tear on his 30 year old body and that age is typically seen as the beginning of the end for running backs.
The primary question for Jackson becomes whether or not he is okay with assuming a tandem role with Daryl Richardson in St. Louis for far less than the $7 million in base salary he is set to make in 2013 or if he still wants to be “the guy” somewhere else and chase a Super Bowl ring. Most expect the pride factor to compel Jackson to void the final year on his deal and play for less money somewhere else so he can still be “the guy” and try to win a championship.
If the anticipated does come to fruition, it will bring to an end one of the best modern day relationships between a player and a franchise that I can remember. Jackson has never experienced a winning season during his nine-year NFL career, yet he has never been one to point the finger or make a scene. He is the perfect example of a consummate professional in a world filled with prima donna athletes.
Even though S-Jax, or SJ39, or whatever moniker you knew him as may not be wearing a Rams jersey in 2013, he will always be a member of the St. Louis Rams in my mind.