Grading Atlanta Falcons Signing of Steven Jackson

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IMarch 14, 2013

Grading Atlanta Falcons Signing of Steven Jackson

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    The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a three-year deal with Steven Jackson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the contract is worth $12 million and includes $4 million in guarantees.

    Although the running back will be 30 in July, Jackson has nearly 2,400 career carries and over 10,000 career yards.

    Plus, he's certainly an upgrade over Michael Turner. 

    Let's grade the Falcons' decision to sign the bulldozing back. 

Fit: Exquisite

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    Michael Turner was a major liability in Atlanta's otherwise explosive offense in 2012. 

    He averaged a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry and rarely displayed any burst when he had the ball in his hands.

    Also, he managed only 19 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown. 

    Jackson has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in every season since his rookie campaign in 2004, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry behind what ProFootballFocus (subscription required) graded as the 25th best run-blocking offensive line last year.

    Quite impressive. 

    He's averaged 40 receptions over the last two seasons and has always been comfortable catching passes out of the backfield. 

    For a pass-heavy team like the Falcons, Jackson is an ideal complement. 

    Grade: A

Talent: Plenty Left

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    There's an idea that Jackson is an over-the-hill plodder who can't produce anymore. 

    It's a misconception. 

    Sure, he's not as dynamic as he was in the mid-2000s, but he is far from being washed up. 

    His power is undeniable and he has always run decisively. 

    In 2012, Jackson finished with the eighth-most yards after contact (per PFF). Also, his 2.7 yards-after-contact-per-carry average was better than the YACPC average of Frank Gore, Stevan Ridley, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and Matt Forte

    Imagine that. 

    Grade: A-

Price: Cost-Effective

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    Inking Jackson for three-years with $12 million with only $4 million in guarantees is perfect for the Falcons. 

    The deal doesn't financially constrict Atlanta whatsoever. 

    Grade: A-

Risk: Expected

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    With any running back comes plenty of risk. For a 30-year-old who's carried the ball as many times as Jackson, the possibility of injury is even greater. 

    But the workhorse back has missed only two games over the last four years in St. Louis. So, despite his vicious running style he's been extremely durable in his NFL career. 

    Grade: B+

Overall Grade

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    The Falcons are a pass-first club, but becoming a more balanced team offensively certainly won't hurt in 2013 and beyond. 

    Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez formulate one of the NFL's most dangerous pass-catching trios. Now, with the addition of Jackson, defenses can't simply zero in on the aerial attack. 

    Jackson may be nearing the end of his career, but he still possesses a nice burst, can catch passes out of the backfield and is a willing pass-blocker. 

    For a team on the cusp of being Super Bowl-caliber, this was a fantastic signing. 

    Grade: A-