The St. Louis Rams interest in Trent Richardson is real, very real. That interest and their prime location with the sixth spot in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft sets up what could be an interesting change of events that will radically change the face of the franchise.
Peter King at Sports Illustrated reiterated the lofty place Richardson enjoys in Fisher's heart and the Rams' draft board last week. In his Monday Morning Quarterback column this week, King takes it one step further. If Richardson falls to the Rams, a big if that depends on Cleveland and Tampa Bay, he would almost certainly be the pick. It would also spell the end of Steven Jackson's time with the franchise.
Jackson is due $7 million this year and the same amount next year. Cap space is not a major concern for the Rams, especially since the free agent market has dwindled to second-chancers and depth players, affordable guys. Still, $7 million is a hefty amount of money to pay a running back that would be sharing time with a first-round pick.
They could trade him, but that would be difficult. Jackson's salary cap value is just too much for most teams that could use him. That's not to say some team could rework a deal, but there is no guarantee something could be done prior to agreeing to a trade. That likely means a release for Jackson, an unceremonious end to his time with the Rams.
Other than the fans, no on person has lost more to years of the Rams' ineptitude than Steven Jackson. The prime of his career was given to a team that topped out at 8-8, in 2006. On other teams Jackson's best would have made the Lombardi Trophy a realistic possibility, compared to sneaking into an NFC West title.
Football is a business, and sometimes that makes for an uncomfortable contradiction with the sentimental weaknesses of being a fan.
But don't turn this into an obituary. Jackson has plenty left to give. Playing for a team likely to contend these next two years would be a nice late chapter in his career.
The top part of the draft is going to be a free for all. Assuming the Vikings take Matt Kalil, which is not guaranteed, the most important spot becomes Cleveland's fourth pick. King himself says GM Tom Heckertt is taken with Justin Blackmon, and Cleveland beat writers have been making the connection as well. Blackmon would be a great fit for Colt McCoy's limitations and Pat Shurmur's West Coast Offense.
Strap in because the next ten days are going to be wild.