Yesterday Steven Jackson said that wherever he lands and wherever the whistling, cash-laden winds of free agency take him, he’d like to be a starter. Specially, he said this to NFL Radio:
“For where I’m at, going into Year 10, I’m not ready to step back and just become a primary backup or a reduced role guy to be part of a running back by committee. I still have a lot left in my tank. I still have a lot left to offer to a team. We’re not talking about someone that’s in Year 12 or 13.”
Of course he wants to start, because every player at every position in every sport on every planet wants to start. Get this: starting is better than sitting, and sitting sucks.
But hey Stevie, would you still be open to a secondary role or a platoon if that’s offered to you?
“Well, that’s where a very open dialogue has to take place. I have opted out of my position of being with the team and being comfortable because I want to continue to still be the bell cow. So that’s how I want teams to look at me, that’s how I’m going to shop myself, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there if that’s not the feedback we’re receiving.”
It’s nice that he has an open mind to the many possibilities free agency has to offer, because although he’s still been productive despite being at an age when running backs typically turn into toads or something, there may be only one place where Jackson can step into a definitive, bell cow starting role immediately.
That place is Green Bay, where replacement-level running back play commenced last season when Cedric Benson went down early. Alex Green and DuJuan Harris were alright, but as a general rule, whenever you’re giving a former car salesman significant touches, that’s bad.
You’re thinking that Atlanta is an option for an immediate bell cow job (quick aside: next to dancing bear, that’s one of the worst positional clichés in football) too, and you’re not wrong. Well, sort of.
With that first sound bite, Jackson is strongly hinting that he wants the overwhelming majority of the carries, a role he’s held throughout his career. The Falcons have been a widely rumored destination after Michael Turner was axed in a black day for NFL unemployment in the Atlanta (good luck, John Abraham and Dunta Robinson) which created $15.9 million in cap room. But Jackson is a fit in the Falcons’ backfield for another perhaps equally important reason, or rather, a person: Jacquizz Rodgers.
The confidence in a soon-to-be 30-year-old to carry a heavy workload is understandably wavering among Jackson’s potential suitors, and the Falcons would have a scenario set up in which Rodgers could steal half a dozen or so carries per game, while also being utilized on passing downs in the flats. Jackson would still be used heavily, but the bell he’d wear would be more like a loud door chime.
But although he may be talking a big talk and saying a somewhat lesser role could matter, it won’t. This past season Jackson was in a similar platoon for much of the year with Daryl Richardson in St. Louis, and he averaged 16 carries per game. He still finished with his eighth straight 1,000-yard season (1,042 yards), which included five runs of 20 yards or more. He’ll be kept fresh on the higher end of a split, and he’ll be more productive.