On Monday afternoon, Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network made a startling revelation about St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. Citing league sources, Lombardi said that Jackson was looking for a new contract, unhappy with the deal that will pay him $7 million this season and the same in 2013. Many have questioned the report's validity, but the lack of any push back from Jackson's camp is notable.
On Tuesday morning, another report, from Evan Silva, surfaced that said the Rams will indeed shop Jackson to potential trade partners during the draft.
It also makes some sense from Jackson's perspective.
Jackson signed his current contract in 2008, after lengthy holdout in the final year of Scott Linehan's tenure as the team's head coach. Under the terms of that deal, Jackson could have been a free agent this season had he reached certain performance milestones. In this case, Jackson needed to average 1,200 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards over the first four years of the deal.
Obviously, that did not happen. The team's inability to field a competent offense over that stretch left Jackson in a lurch, denying him one more shot at a big free agent deal while still in the relative prime of his career. You can see why he might be less than taken with his current contract.
Add in the Trent Richardson talk, and Jackson's best bet might be a ticket out of town.
Jackson, with his contract and age-29 season this year, will not fetch more than a fifth-round pick. Silva says fourth is a best case scenario. His contract might turn off more than a few potential suitors too.
For his part, Jackson has said publicly that the Rams need to find a receiver, a deep threat to stretch the field and give Sam Bradford some talent at the position. Obviously that would also benefit Jackson, giving him more room to work and upping what he can ask for in a new contract.
With running back options plentiful in the first two rounds of the draft, the Rams would have been unlikely to give Jackson a new deal anyway.