Top Five Destinations for Steven Jackson
Top Five Destinations for Steven Jackson
After nine seasons, the St. Louis Rams’ all-time leading rusher Steven Jackson may be on his way out of town. The veteran is expected to void the last year of his contract, making him eligible to become a free agent on Mar. 12.
Jackson is only the sixth player in NFL history to have rushed for 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons. From being named the Rams’ Rookie of the Year, to making the All-Pro Team (twice), Jackson has distinguished himself as one of the franchise’s top players. However, he has never played on a winning team.
At 29 years old, Jackson has a lot of wear and tear on his tires. Closing in on 2,400 carries, you have to wonder how much he has left to offer. Before the Rams’ regular season finale, Jackson even hinted at retirement.
But if the bruising runner chooses to proceed with his playing career, there are playoff-caliber teams out there who could use his services. While he has lost a step, Jackson can still run hard, pick up blitzes and catch passes out of the backfield. In the right situation, he can help an offense pick up those tough yards.
Old running backs are usually thrown to the curb, but Jackson is an exception. Playing on teams with little offensive talent for all these years, it’s surprising that he was able to put the numbers that he has.
The only object missing from his well-decorated trophy case is a Super Bowl ring. Check out the five teams who could use Jackson in helping them pursue a championship title.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at almost an entirely new backfield in 2013. Isaac Redman could return as a third-down back, but free agents Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer are not expected back.
The Steelers scored only eight touchdowns on the ground last season, so bringing in Jackson would already be an upgrade. Despite his physical running style, Jackson has only missed one game in the past three seasons. He can handle a heavy workload, especially if he is surrounded with talent. Making a commitment to run more would help protect Ben Roethlisberger from suffering those unnecessary hits, while keeping their aging defense off the field.
With some retooling, the Steelers can find themselves in the postseason once again.
4. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are known for collecting veterans who put the team first, and Jackson fits that mold to a tee. In this situation, adding the former Pro Bowler would be more of a luxury than a necessity. New England finished seventh in rushing yards a game and first in rushing touchdowns last year. Stevan Ridley is a young, talented runner, but he’s not a receiving threat.
While the Patriots have a lot of mouths to feed, Jackson can serve as a high-end backup to Ridley and play on passing downs. Jackson's professionalism would also rub off on his teammates.
3. Green Bay Packers
The offense rightfully revolves around Aaron Rodgers and his receivers. But if the Green Bay Packers want to get back to the big game, they’ll need a threat at running back. James Starks sparked the rushing attack three years ago in their quest to Super Bowl XLV. However, he has failed to live up to expectations and Cedric Benson is an unrestricted free agent. Even though DuJuan Harris performed well in the playoffs, Green Bay does not view him as an every-down back.
The Packers have many decent options at running back, but Jackson is more proven than any of them. In a pass-oriented offense, he won’t have to absorb the punishment of carrying the ball 18-20 times a game. If he can work at the goal line and give them about 12 effective carries, Green Bay will feature an unpredictable attack.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are expected to release Michael Turner, which leaves a void at running back. They still have Jacquizz Rodgers, but its questionable if he can handle a full-time workload with his slight build.
Jackson would provide Atlanta with that extra punch that Turner gave them. The Falcons ranked just 29th in rushing last year. Adding Jackson to the mix should provide the offense with a better balance.
1. Denver Broncos
Led by Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos are on the cusp of reaching the Super Bowl. They have a top-notch passing game, a balanced offensive line and a defense that can pressure opposing quarterbacks. The question mark remains at running back, where Willis McGahee will be 32 years old in October, and is recovering from knee surgery. Knowshon Moreno also has health concerns.
Adding Jackson to the backfield not only provides the Broncos with another veteran on the team, but he would form a nice tandem with Ronnie Hillman or Moreno. With Manning by his side, defenses cannot solely focus on stopping Jackson. With his running and receiving ability, he’d serve as the final piece to Denver’s offense.