While the possibility still remains that long-time ball carrier Steven Jackson will be back with the St. Louis Rams in 2013, the team must begin to formulate a plan for moving on without SJ39 this season. Fortunately for the Rams, they seem to have prepared well for this inevitable day by drafting some ball carriers a year ago and the NFL free agent market could fit their needs quite nicely as well. Let’s take a look at some of the club’s options for trying to replace the production that Jackson brought to the table for the better part of the past decade.
DARYL RICHARDSON / ISAIAH PEAD
Obviously the place to start is in house where both Richardson and Pead will be entering their second seasons in the league. While Richardson saw more success a year ago, the team still has high hopes for Pead who was taken in the second round, five full rounds before Richardson in last year’s draft. The only real problem with these two actually shouldering the entire load is that they are nearly mirror images with Pead at 5’10” 197lbs. and Richardson at 5’10” 196. General Manager Les Snead is on record saying that he still has high hopes for both players in the future, but it remains to be seen if either can be a feature back.
Here is where things get interesting. The Rams are lucky that nearly all of their pressing needs could be filled on the free agent market this offseason. There are plenty of quality running backs available and three in particular would be perfect complements to what Pead and Richardson have to offer.
He may be 31 years old now, but “The Burner” still has some gas left in the tank as a part-time back. His 3.6 yards per carry average last season was a career-low by a large margin, but he still found the end zone on 10 occasions. The Rams need to improve their red zone offense and Turner would be a great way to upgrade in that area.
This is pretty much Turner if you turn back the clock a few years. Greene went over the 1,000-yard barrier for the second consecutive season in 2012 despite the New York Jets ineptitude offensively. He did only average 3.9 yard per carry, but he too has a nose for the goal line scoring eight times last season. Greene is very limited as a receiver out of the backfield so he would be the ideal complement as well for the two options in house who can both step up big on passing downs.
Clearly Bradshaw would be the ideal fit in St. Louis. He is just 27 years of age and has plenty of tread left on his tires as an NFL ball carrier. He has been used primarily in a running back by committee role his entire career with the New York Giants and would thrive in a similar mold with the Rams. He matched his career average of 4.6 yards per carry in 2012 which suggests that he is a model of consistency as well. Injuries are the one looming concern with him as foot issues have kept him off of the field in recent years. At the right price however, his tough running between the tackles would be a great fit with the Rams.
What this shows is that there are plenty of economical options for the Rams available in the upcoming free agency period. It will be exciting to see just how they choose to fill the void left by stalwart Steven Jackson or if they will even have to being that he too could still return to the team at a lower price.