The rumor mill over at Pro Football Talk claims their sources have heard of no conversations whatsiever between the Rams and Steven Jackson or his agent, Eugene Parker. That contradicts the report from the PD today that "low-key talks" between the two sides have started in the last few days.
Jim Thomas, the Rams beat writer for the Post-Dispatch, is a crack reporter and has an impeccable track record. If he's reporting that minimal conversations have happened, I'll take his word for it. And not just because as a Rams fan I'm dying to see Steven Jackson end his hold out.
But besides precedent, there's another reason I'm more apt to believe the big news about little conversations from today's paper, or online version of the paper anyway.
Why? Think about the dialectics of the situation for a minute. Really, this is a lot more than a two sided conflict. Sure, there's Jackson and the Rams on the main stage, but there's also likely to be conflict between people and parties on each of those sides. To wit. this weekend word surfaced that Jackson was unhappy with his agent Eugene Parker and thinking of dumping him because Jackson himself was displeased with his holdout and felt that the situation was damaging to him as well. Jackson's unhappiness threatens Parker's payday from the contract Jackson eventually signs. AND, if Jackson holdouts out all season, or even until week 10, his next big contract won't come until 2011, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent (because the Rams would likely franchise him in '09 and tender him in '10 when he's a restricted free agent, because he lost his year of eligibility because of his holdout).
So, what I'm trying to say, is that friction between Jackson and his agent could very well have been the catalyst for these "low-key talks" that are being reported.
Conversely, and this has not at all been reported, there could be tension in the Rams camp, with one side wanting to start negotiations and the other side maintain their insistence not to while Jackson's holding out. Scott Linehan's career and arguably the franchise's future in St. Louis is closely tied to Jackson being in uniform and ready to go this season. However, I think there's likely to be a lot more discipline inside the Rams organization, since it's a more structured entity than the relationship between player and agent.
Either way, whether you choose to believe the reports or not, this is the first sign of any movement since Jackson's holdout began almost three weeks and $285,000 ago. And that in and of itself is something.
UPDATE: In his "Postcard from camp," SI.com's Howard Blazer says:
"...the buzz in the agent community is Jackson is interviewing agents for another potential change."
Wow. That's the first we've heard that Jackson is interviewing other agents, and a pretty strong indicator that reports of "low-key talks" between the two sides may indeed be spurred by friction between Jackson and his agent.