Steven Jackson is no longer a free agent. The veteran running back has agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots, the team announced on Dec. 22. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported prior to kickoff against the New York Jets in Week 16 that Jackson would be active.
Josina Anderson of ESPN first reported on Dec. 21 that Jackson would receive a one-year deal to bolster a position that has lost several players, including Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, to injuries. Rapoport reported the deal is for the veteran minimum.
Jackson was released by Atlanta with one year remaining on the contract he signed in 2013, but his time with the Falcons was largely unproductive. He ran for a total of 1,250 yards with 13 total touchdowns (12 rushing) in 27 games.
After his release, Jackson wrote a blurb on his personal website to declare he wasn't considering retirement:
There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defenses over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game—let's just say you were really feeling me at that point.
Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior's heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it.
For whatever reason, Jackson has always been one year late to the party during his NFL tenure. He was drafted 24th overall by St. Louis in 2004, the year after the Rams went 12-4 to win the NFC West.
Jackson spent nine years with the Rams before signing with the Falcons in 2013, the year after they played in the NFC Championship Game. He has had some of the worst luck any individual player can have, but hopefully there's one good run left in him.
Even though the numbers haven't been kind to him recently, he's still a functional runner who can provide a powerful change of pace in a two-back set. He's been durable, playing at least 15 games in five of the last six years.
Teams are always looking to add depth at running back since players take such a beating at the position. Jackson doesn't have to be a workhorse anymore, but he has the frame and style to provide power when the offense needs to pick up a couple of yards.
As long as Jackson is used in a scheme that takes advantage of the things he does well, this has the potential to be a fruitful marriage.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com.