For an NFL career that has had 2,395 carries for 10,135 yards and 56 touchdowns, running back Steven Jackson really doesn’t have much to show for his workhorse numbers. The St. Louis Rams primary ball carrier during the past decade came into the league under the mentorship of Marshall Faulk who is widely considered one of the most versatile backs to ever play in the league. It has been rumored for quite some time now, but reports now say that Jackson is officially set to void the final year of his deal with only team he has ever known in the NFL.
While this can be seen as a somber moment for Rams fans who have watched Jackson mature as a player and a man, the fact remains that S-Jax is unlikely to get any more money playing in another city. The whole idea of voiding the contract is merely a matter of semantics as the Rams would likely have released Jackson anyway given the $7 million cap hit he was due for in 2013.
In the Rams’ cap strapped position, the team would welcome SJ39 back at a reduced cost next season. Unfortunately he will hit the dreaded 30 year old number in late July which typically signifies the end of the road for ball carriers in the NFL. His carry number is certainly not terribly exorbitant for a nine year veteran, but at nearly 2,400 totes, Jackson is quickly approaching numbers that former greats have finished with.
The man who preceded him in St. Louis in Faulk amassed just 2,836 carries in his dozen years in the league. Of course he was known more for his versatility with 767 career receptions as well, but still that is worrisome. Another contemporary great in LaDainian Tomlinson carried the ball just 3,174 times, but he too had plenty of catches with 624 in his career.
From strictly a Rams’ perspective, bringing Jackson back for a few more years and allowing him to finish his career in the city that he began would be ideal. The team isn’t ready to hand over the primary ball carrying duties to now second year backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead just yet. Even though Richardson was impressive as a 7th rounder in last year’s NFL Draft rushing for 475 yards with a 4.8-yard average, the team remains justifiably hesitant to make him a feature back just yet.
Having a mentor to begin his NFL journey clearly benefited Jackson with the Rams and he carries some of Faulk’s characteristics with him to this day. It would be fantastic if the team could bring him back at a reduced cost to play the same role as his predecessor over the next few seasons. Jackson is clearly synonymous with the Rams franchise and having him around to finish his NFL days with the team would be the best for both parties.