Steven Jackson will void the final year of his contract with the St. Louis Rams, making him an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on March 12. Several teams should be interested in the three-time Pro Bowl running back, but where will he land?
Jackson has spent his entire nine-year career with the Rams, and leads all active NFL running backs with 10,135 career rushing yards. He is getting older, but he can still produce; last season Jackson ran for 1,042 yards on 257 carries, his eighth straight 1,000-yard season. He was due $7 million in 2013, a number the Rams could not have afforded to pay him with the rise in production of running backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Instead of waiting for St. Louis to release him, Jackson decided to enter free agency on his own.
So where will he end up in 2013?
The Atlanta Falcons are considered the front-runners to land Jackson, who would serve as a replacement to Michael Turner. Atlanta is expected to release the 31-year-old running back, scheduled to make $6.9 million, giving them the cap space needed to sign Jackson.
Jackson, 29, has as much wear as Turner, but is producing at a higher level at this point in his career. Last season Turner was limited to 3.6 yards per carry, while Jackson averaged 4.1 yards per attempt behind a worse offensive line. In addition, Jackson is also a much better receiver than Turner and would be a good fit in the Falcons pass-first offense.
Atlanta has Jacquizz Rodgers as well, but he is considered a change-of-pace back and would be a complement to Jackson in the backfield.
The other candidates
Plenty of teams could use a veteran running back of Jackson's caliber, so a lot will depend on his asking price and if he is more interested in piling up carries and yards or competing for a Super Bowl.
The New York Giants released starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw to make room for David Wilson, but they will need someone alongside their second-year back. The Giants have been fond of goal-line specialists and Jackson has the strength to fill that role as well as get a good chunk of carries and mentor Wilson.
Steven Jackson could land with Falcons, other Super Bowl contenders
SB Nation | Feb 26