Has Steven Jackson Played His Last Game in St. Louis?

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIDecember 16, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 14:  Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Rams' 36-22 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday could go down as the last image of Steven Jackson playing in St. Louis.

He might have even had his farewell moment, as he passed 10,000 career rushing yards:

Congrats to @stlouisrams RB Steven Jackson on surpassing 10,000 rushing yards for his career.

NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 16, 2012


The reality is that he may not be with the team next season. Jackson is owed $7 million by the Rams in 2013, but he is free to void that contract if he so chooses. 

Like many other proven backs, Jackson has been looking for a long-term deal. The problem is that he is nearing 30 years of age and is already in his ninth NFL season. St. Louis may not see much return on investment if it dedicates a ton of money to an aging star.

Still, Jackson has been a consistent presence for the Rams and a player they can trust. His rookie year was the only time Jackson ever rushed for less than 1,000 yards in a season.

St. Louis is the only team he has ever played for, and Jackson seems to know that the end of his tenure may be in sight. Here is what he told the St. Louis Dispatch about the potential of playing his final game with the Rams, per NFL.com: "Have I thought about it? Yes, I have. Will the emotion be high? It'll be high because Adrian Peterson is on the sideline."

Even if Jackson is able to continue his elite level of play for a few more seasons, will St. Louis feel like he is a guy that it has to pay?

Backup Daryl Richardson has made the most of every opportunity he has been given. Richardson has averaged 5.2 yards per carry on 88 attempts this season. He is only 22 years old and will have time to learn and develop within head coach Jeff Fisher's system.

Is Richardson as good as Jackson?

No, but he is younger and cheaper—two very important traits when assessing potential value.

Jackson has said he wants to stay in St. Louis, but the reality is that that may be a pipe dream at this point.

Rams fans should savor those images of Jackson squaring off against AP from this Sunday. There is a high likelihood he is done calling the Edward James Dome home.