The Green Bay Packers have been one of the worst rushing teams in football over the past five years, which makes them one of the primary candidates to go after a top free agent like Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush.
Jackson is a likely candidate because he may cost a bit less than the other two, but his tough running style would translate well to the cold air in Wisconsin. He will be an unrestricted free agent if he declines his player option and $7 million salary and so far all signs point to him doing so.
He has been a stalwart on the Rams for years and was one of the most consistent backs in football over the past eight seasons, rushing for over 1,000 yards each time, amazing over 10,000 during his nine year career. The 29-year-old is getting up there in age, but he still would be a huge upgrade for a team that used Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and James Starks and others primarily.
Jackson has taken on a number of carries over his career as a physical runner, but last season he had the lowest amount per game in his career, which is actually a good thing for the Packers since the wear and tear is a bit less than it may have been otherwise. He might be too old to be a primary back in the league, but with a solid offensive line in Green Bay and the team looking to pass mostly, it could be a good fit for an aging veteran that will bring leadership to the locker room.
The Packers have yet to find that perfect mix of offense since winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago and one of the main reasons for that is the inconsistency of the running game. Last season the Packers ranked 20th in the league in rushing behind Alex Green, who led the team with just 464 yards.
Any NFL team knows they need a new running back when their quarterback is the second leading rusher (except for teams with actual running quarterbacks). Jackson rushed for 1,042 yards this season, his lowest total since 2008, but he could be in line for a big rebound year, Reports say that he has not met with the Rams yet, meaning he likely is weighing his options on leaving the team. He has scored 56 touchdowns in his career and is one of the best grinders between the tackles after having eight straight seasons with at least 237 carries.
The Packers may have some more money to spend after releasing veteran and likely future Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson on Friday and could give Jackson a two-year deal. Jackson is overworked but durable, as he has played in at least 14 games in seven of his nine years with the Rams.
John Clayton at ESPN said that the fit could work:
"I think that would be a great idea. Jackson isn't going to make $7 million this year. Jackson has until the start of free agency to void the last year of his Rams contract. Although the Rams want him back, I think he will hit the market. If that is the case, Thompson could offer $5 million and see whether that could lure Jackson to Green Bay. He would be perfect for that offense."
The Packers also used Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant last year, but both are free agents and Benson was out for most of the season with a foot injury. Now that Woodson's $10 million salary will be coming off of the books, Green Bay will have money to spend and since the passing attack is so potent, it's time to upgrade at running back.