Steven Jackson's Future with St. Louis Rams Looks Murky

Justin Gibson@JustinNColumbiaCorrespondent IIIApril 24, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06:  Runningback Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams walks out onto the field before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Whether the St. Louis Rams draft a running back this Thursday or not, it seemed like Steven Jackson would at least be with the team until his contract expires.

That situation may be changing in light of recent reports from insiders at NFL Network and Rotoworld, as the list of those who think Jackson could be moved grows.

While on Bill Simmons' B.S. Report yesterday, NFL Network's Michael Lombardi said Jackson wants to renegotiate his contract with the Rams and that he is not happy with his current situation in St. Louis. Lombardi went on to say he expects the Rams to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson as "quickly as they could," and the Minnesota Vikings are attempting to lure St. Louis up to the No. 3 spot in the draft.

The 29-year-old centerpiece to the Rams' offense signed a six-year contract worth up to $49 million in 2008 after holding out for several months. He initially signed a five-year, $7 million contract as a first-round pick in 2004.

Then today, Rotoworld senior NFL editor Evan Silva added to the speculation by tweeting that the Rams will shop Jackson during the draft. However, his $7 million base salary this season and next, plus his age, would only return a fourth-round pick in the best-case scenario, according to Silva.

However, Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch four days ago that he would not only be fine with the Rams drafting Richardson, but he would also be willing to mentor the young running back.

Well, maybe the Rams want to trend young at the running-back position and will look to move Jackson because of that. Not so fast.

Speaking to the Post-Dispatch two weeks ago, head coach Jeff Fisher made it very clear how much he values running backs on his team. "I haven't devalued the running back position," Fisher said. "You're talking to the wrong person. I want as many of them on the roster as you can get."

Could Jackson's time in St. Louis be coming to a more abrupt halt than was expected just a few days ago? Absolutely.

Fisher and general manager Les Snead are building a winner for the future in St. Louis, and if the duo believes going young at running back and giving a rookie more carries would accelerate that goal, then moving Jackson would make sense.

But, you can't undervalue the importance of a veteran player helping shape first- and second-year guys. Especially if they are willing, which Jackson has indicated he is.

Plus, the San Francisco 49ers are the favorite to once again win the NFC West, yet the Rams could contend, depending on how the draft goes in just a couple of days. Having Jackson in addition to a young, talented rookie in the backfield could be a serious threat.

Stay tuned, though. This year's draft may be about more than just bringing guys in.

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