St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is no longer a member of the Rams, and now we have a bit more insight into why: The 29-year-old rusher reportedly voided his contract with his longtime team.
The new comes from Howard Balzer via Twitter:
Nothing earth-shattering, but Steven Jackson has officially voided the final year of his contract.— Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721) March 7, 2013
According to the Rams' official website, this was an anticipated move from the veteran:
With free agency set to begin on March 12, Jackson is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract, a year with a $7 million price tag that the Rams likely wouldn’t have met anyway.
Jackson's price tag for 2013 is noteworthy. Along with his voided contract and the reported release of Wayne Hunter, the team was able to save $11 million, according to Balzer:
Jackson's void and release of Wayne Hunter clears $11 million from Rams salary cap.— Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721) March 7, 2013
There had been talk that the team was attempting to re-sign Jackson after he was expected to void his $7 million option for 2013 to become a free agent, but it's now clear he had other plans.
And it's hard to be upset with his decision, as Jackson has to be sick and tired of toiling for a team whose rebuilding effort seems to have stalled out. He hasn't had a chance to play for a true contender in ages.
Where is the best fit for Jackson?
Now, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he might get his chance. The Falcons are reportedly the team most interested in his services, and he would finally get the chance to play for a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and contribute, assuming he still has gas left in the tank.
But the Falcons may not be the only team interested in Jackson's services. According to the Rams' official website, he could be a valuable player for teams ready to make a serious run in 2013:
For Jackson to re-sign in St. Louis, he’d likely have to be willing to play for a salary well below the $7 million figure, perhaps on a two-year deal. Many believe teams like the Falcons or Denver could view Jackson as one of the final pieces to their championship puzzle and be willing to meet the asking price while providing a Super Bowl opportunity.
The former Oregon State star was the heart and soul of this franchise over the past nine seasons. After sharing the load with Marshall Faulk in 2004, he took over starting duties in his second year and never came close to giving up that role.
The hard-nosed back surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark every year since, and in 2006 he tallied a staggering 2,334 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone 16 times.
Despite being a part of a top-10 offense just three times during his nine-year stint with the Rams, Jackson remained consistent and often flat-out dominant. He sits 26th on the all-time rushing list with 10,135 yards and 30th on the all-time yards from scrimmage list with 13,459.
With the ability to both catch passes out the backfield and block effectively, Jackson was the epitome of a complete running back.
It's a shame he won't get a chance to shine more in the playoffs (he received 19 postseason carries in 2004), but it has been a marvelous career nonetheless.
As for the Rams, they will undoubtedly miss their superstar running back, but this move will allow them to get younger with Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead.