The way we hear it, the odds that longtime offensive centerpiece Steven Jackson will remain with the Rams after this season have dropped below 50 percent.
“There’s no way I see anybody being willing to pay him $7 million a year for sure,” said one team insider of Jackson, who was granted an unusual opt-out of his contract after this season by executive V.P. of football operations/COO Kevin Demoff, who does not believe in artificially binding players who might have value on the free-agent market. “Maybe if they can land him on the rebound (from whatever free-agent offers he might entertain) at a cheaper price, he could be back.”
Jackson, who has become a model employee the more he has matured, has said on more than one occasion that he would like to stay in St. Louis.
“But he’s still thinking he could have 2-3 years left, and he has to be sick of losing,” the insider said. “At the end of the day, he figures to at least test the market and see what’s out there.”
The perception of Jackson as a quality back remains strong on a national level.
“In studying him now, he’s such a big, explosive player, and he runs with an attitude, and he has such good short-area quickness,” Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano said of Jackson four days before facing him up close and personal for the first time in Week 16.
“When he sees something — and he’s got great vision — he has the ability to get there in a hurry. When he senses a little backside of a run, there’s not a lot of backs that can make some of the cuts that he makes.”
But with Jackson turning 30 before his next training camp — the widely acknowledged magic number for hitting the RB wall — we hear it’s looking more likely that he will be replaced by a RB-by-committee including undersized rookies Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, who are more scat-back types, and Jets cast-off Terrance Ganaway, a bigger body who was signed just before the regular season started.
“They like Ganaway at 230-235 pounds,” the insider said. “I think they’re anxious to see what he can do in training camp.”