The Falcons may have just added the last piece of the puzzle in their quest to create a truly dynamic and complete offense as they agreed to terms with former Rams running back Steven Jackson on a three-year deal worth $12 million. Jackson turned down $7 million this season alone to play for the Rams, but did so in order to join a contending team in hopes of playing in the Super Bowl. He should have at least a puncher’s chance of doing that as he joins a Falcons team that features Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Matt Ryan on offense.
For Jackson, this is truly a best case scenario.
A washed up Michael Turner was the RB16 in many leagues last year and had 51 carries in the red zone alone (almost twice as many as Jackson) while averaging a less than stellar 3.6 yards per carry, his career low. Jackson averaged over four yards per carry with a putrid offensive line in St. Louis, while posting his eighth straight 1,000 yard season in 2012. Jackson is a true three down workhorse and he should have his best season in years, especially in the touchdown and pass catching departments. A reasonable projection for Jackson would likely be around 1,500 total yards, 40-50 catches and close to double digit scores if he can stay healthy. For contending teams, he’s the perfect player to target right now. If you’re out of the mix and have him on your roster, now may be the best time to unload him and get some good value.
This signing puts a bit of a pin in the balloon of Jacquizz Rodgers. He’ll be more of a change of pace option than a “lightning” complement to Jackson’s thunder. It’s obvious the Falcons don’t feel he can carry much of a load, but they’ll likely find some creative ways to get him involved. Regardless, those who had Rodgers pegged as a “buy” candidate as a possible featured back have to be disappointed in the news. As far as emotions go, owners of Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson of the Rams have to be rejoicing.
Jackson is an absolute bruiser of a running back and ends his nine year career with St. Louis after posting 10,135 rushing yards, 472 catches, 3,324 receiving yards and 64 total touchdowns. The amazing thing is he only had one season with double digit rushing touchdowns (13 in 2006). Even with the constant offensive woes in St. Louis, he’s had only one season where he averaged fewer than four yards per carry. While some question his durability, he’s only missed 13 games in nine years in the NFL as well.
He joins a truly explosive offense in Atlanta and should finally flirt with double digit touchdowns again next season. A rejuvenated Jackson wants to win a title and this was really the best place for him from a dynasty perspective. While the Packers would have also allowed him a chance to start, they employ such a pass heavy attack that his value would have been inflated in dynasty circles.
The Falcons will have a much more balanced attack next year, but will still look for Roddy White and Julio Jones to make the big plays first. With defenses keying in on those two monster receivers, Jackson should find some good running lanes for the first time in years.
It’s tough not to get excited about the prospects of Steven Jackson and Tony Gonzalez joining forces for one last shot at glory. The 49ers and Seahawks have both done a lot to improve their football teams, but the Falcons just got a shot in the arm.
Contending teams with Jackson on their roster just got one, too.
For the complete free agency rundown, visit our Offensive Free Agency Blog in our Premium Content that details each and every relevant move. We also have an IDP Free Agency Blog this year that covers all the IDP moves as they come in.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK