Steven Jackson expected to void his contract, become free agent
Jackson is set to make $7 million in 2013, one of the higher running back salaries in the NFL, but at the age of 29, he'd probably like to cash in on a multi-year deal while he's still an effective player. He is expected to talk things over with the Rams' management before making his decision, and a return to St. Louis on a new contract is a possibility.
Jackson has played his entire nine-year career in St. Louis, beginning as the successor to Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, and not disappointing. Since becoming the full-time starter during his second year in the league, Jackson has run for a thousand yards in every season, making three Pro Bowls along the way.
His 4.1 yards per carry average is not far off from his career average of 4.2, so it seems that he has plenty left in the tank. Teams in need of a running back will certainly be interested in Jackson when free agency opens.
There's a good chance that Jackson will want to play for a contender during the final stretch of his career, as he has never played for a team that has finished over .500, and has made the playoffs only once, as a rookie.
Here are a few teams that are likely to be interested if Jackson voids his contract, as expected:
Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner is likely to be a cap casualty due to a high salary and rapidly declining physical tools. The Falcons struggled to sustain a running game in 2012 - particularly between the tackles - and Jackson could help a lot in that area. Coming up just short of a trip to the Super Bowl this past season, the Falcons could be a desirable team for Jackson.
Green Bay Packers: Five different players started at halfback for the Packers in 2012, and none of them were overly impressive. The only two that averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry were Ryan Grant (4.1) and DeJuan Harris (4.6). What the Packers hoped Cedric Benson could bring to the table in 2012 could be brought by Jackson in 2013, and Jackson would also be more useful in the passing game.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers management has made it clear that they blame their running backs for their 26th ranked rushing offense, as opposed to blaming the blocking up front. Rashard Mendenhall is as good as gone, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that the Steelers do not view either Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman as starting options. Jackson could bring back the classic smash-mouth running style that they love in Pittsburgh.