As a St. Louis Rams fan, there has been one player that has been the face of the organization for the past nine years, running back Steven Jackson. It seems as if his days are over in St. Louis after a report came out this week saying that he plans to void his contract and explore free agency. The move comes after the Rams organization said during the season that they plan to not sign Jackson to a lucrative extension after the 2013 season. I believe that it is the wrong decision and that Jackson has four or five good seasons left in him.
Jackson was the 24th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Rams after they swapped picks with the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. Although the Rams have only made the playoffs once since they drafted Jackson, he has been one of the most reliable running backs in the league. Jackson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season except for his rookie year when he split carries with Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk. Last year, he became only the 6th running back in league history to compile eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and also became the 27th running back in NFL history to rush for 10,000 career yards. On December 24, 2010, Jackson passed the great Eric Dickerson as the all-time leading rusher in franchise history.
So why should the Rams keep Jackson? Sure, Jackson ran for only 1,042 yards last year, his lowest since 2008 but if you look at the game tape, most of those yards were hard fought. Although Jackson is turning the dreaded running back age of 30, statically the age of when running backs start to have more injuries and their numbers decrease, he has never had an issue with durability in his career. Only twice in his career has Jackson played less than 14 games including last year when he played in every game.
Jackson has never been a problem with the organization having never had any off the field issues. The problem for Jackson is that he wants to win a ring. Jackson feels that he is one of the leagues best and wants to be on a team that contends for a title next year, but the playoffs seem more likely for the Rams after last year. In Jeff Fisher’s first year as coach, they were two or three plays away from having nine wins as they went 7-8-1, their best record since 2006. With two first round picks in this year’s draft and a much-improved defense, the Rams have what it takes to contend for the playoffs.
Will the Rams be willing to give Jackson more money is the question? The Rams don’t have a lot of extra money unless they can restructure some of their contracts including QB Sam Bradford. It is going to be a tough decision for Steven Jackson but I hope that both sides can work out a deal because the Rams will not be the same next year without him.
images were used from sj39.com and washingtonpost.com