Rams void Jackson's final year, will be free agent this summer
Jackson had an opportunity to void his contract at the end of this season, allowing him to test the free agent market, if he averaged 1200 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards from 2008 to 2011. Jackson reached that mark in rushing with 1211 yards per season, but fell short with only 354 receiving yards per year. However, the Rams decided to let him void the final year of his contract anyway, making him a free agent in this upcoming offseason.
The Rams' decision is peculiar, as there is certainly a trade market for a runner with Jackson's ferocity. In addition, the Rams could have asked Jackson to take a pay cut this season in return for letting him test free agency this summer. Nevertheless, they apparently had their reasons to let him leave without getting anything in return.
It will be interesting to see what teams make a run at Jackson this summer. He'll be 30 before the start of next season, and he has been dealing with a nagging groin injury in four of the past six seasons. It's exceptionally rare to see a player with the vicious running style of Jackson remain effective into his 30's, so a team that has a shot at a Super Bowl in the near future seems to be the most likely of destinations.
The first team that comes to mind is the Patriots, as they seem to like scooping up all of the post-prime, former-great running backs on the market. However, they may have finally found their long term backfield solution in Stevan Ridley. Other teams that wouldn't surprise me would be the Packers, Redskins, Cardinals, or Jets - but of course, a lot will happen before any team needs to decide if they desire Jackson's services. The most likely scenario for Jackson, I'd have to say, is a return to the Rams. He knows he'll be the feature back there as long as he's healthy, and the Rams don't have much in the way of talent to replace him.
Jackson will be atop the 2013 free agent running back group along with Reggie Bush and Rashard Mendenhall.