The New England Patriots are preparing to sign free agent Steven Jackson to a contract to help with depth after the injury to LeGarrette Blount. ESPN reports that the team is bringing in Jackson and he will join Brandon Bolden and James White as running back options for Tom Brady heading into the playoffs.
Jackson reportedly worked out for the Patriots last week and according to Josina Anderson at ESPN, the team is signing him on Monday. The Patriots won over the Titans this weekend and are in position to get a first round bye in the AFC, which would give Jackson plenty of time to get acclimated to the team and the offense. Jackson has been on the free agent market all season waiting for an opportunity and now he has the chance with the Patriots.
The running back confirmed the news on his Twitter account that he was "back" and now he has the chance to go to the playoffs and try to compete for a Super Bowl. Jackson can help take over the role that Blount had in the offense as the early down back that can run through the middle, as the team has been looking for Bolden to step into that role since Blount went down. James White has helped make up for the loss of Dion Lewis and now the Patriots are hoping that Jackson can add a boost to the rushing game.
Jackson is one of the most productive running backs in NFL history and while he has slowed down over the last couple seasons while in Atlanta while averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry, he can help give the team some strong depth heading into the playoffs. Last season Jackson had 702 rushing yards in 15 games for the Falcons and during his time with the Rams he rushed for at least 1000 yards in eight straight seasons.
Blount was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury and that came after the team lost Lewis for the season with an ACL injury. The Patriots have been dealing with a number of key injuries on offense this season with Lewis and Blount out, while players like Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have all missed time.
Adding Jackson will give the team more options in the backfield and also could help free up Bolden and White to play in better situations. White has stepped in well for Lewis and has 33 catches for 319 yards and he comes into the week after making seven catches for 71 yards in the win against the Titans. Jackson may need some time to get his legs under him, but he represents a solid move for the Patriots and should add some good depth at the position for the playoffs.