1) Steven Jackson Facts
SJ turned 29 two days ago. Consequently, he will be 30 entering the final year of his contract in 2013. He is scheduled to make $7 million per season over these last two years of his existing agreement. He has rushed for over 1000 yards seven years in a row beginning in 2005. In seven seasons, SJ has played the full 16 game schedule twice. During that span, the Rams have had a record of 29-83.
We have a few options when it comes to dealing with Mr. Jackson. We can let him play out his current contract then let him walk. We can let him play out his current contract then tag him. We can trade him at the end of this season. Or, we can sign him to an extension.
With some preseason grumblings about his wanting a new contract this year, I can only imagine that will gain volume next year. Potentially, he could hold out his final year. But, given his style, I doubt he would. If we opt to tag him at the end of the 2013 season, his new one year salary would likely be somewhere between $8.5 and $10 million. If we work out a trade, I can only guess as to what the Rams would receive as compensation. I can't see anything better than a 2nd rounder and even that might be too much for a 30 year old RB with only one year left on his contract.
3) Running Into A Wall
Generally, RBs don't do well when they turn 30. This is a slightly older article, but the facts are still very relevant: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/football/ffl/story?page=nfldk2k830rbs
In breaking down the totals from the top 50 rushers in the history of the NFL, a few things jump out: They lost 20.4% of their TD production from the age of 29-30. They lost 13.1% of their yards from scrimmage production from 29-30. Their total carries as well as their YPC both decreased. And, these numbers only continue to dwindle as their age increases.
4) Cost-Benefit Ratio
Paying one player a large sum of money means you cannot use that same amount of money to pay a different player. We have a couple of very important contracts coming up in the way of JL and Long. Long already makes a pretty penny, so signing him to an extension likely won't break the bank. On the other hand, JL doesn't make a whole lot. So, his increase in salary will have a very significant impact on our cap.
Being able to free up a hefty salary means we can apply that money elsewhere...perhaps to a nice free agent WR or OL. Without making an argument either way on Pead's ability to be a starter, his cap hit as a 2nd round pick under the new CBA comes in at $734,200 for 2012.
5) Draft Possibilities
We have two first round picks and one second round pick in the 2013 draft as of right now. Given the outcome of the last draft, it would not be surprising in the least to see a trade occur, perhaps giving us an additional 2nd rounder. If we were able to trade SJ at the end of the 2012 season, we would fetch additional picks as well. Here are a few possibilities as to whom we might be able to pair up with Pead if we were to not have SJ entering the 2013 season:
1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, 6-0/218
2. Knile Davis, Arkansas 6-0/226
3. Kenjon Barner, Oregon, 5-11/195
4. Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 5-11/212
I know it's tough to say goodbye to someone that has given his heart and soul to the club. But, even with his heart and soul, we have never had a winning season during his time here. It is time to make radical change. Brace yourself for the change. Brace yourself for winning without Steven Jackson.