Surprise. Steven Jackson voided his contract, and his prospects for returning to the St. Louis Rams look thin. It's not about the money; it's about his role with the team. Jackson made it clear during an all-out media blitz on Thursday that he wants to be a featured running back in the NFL.
Here's what he told Sirius/XM radio during his free agent whistle stop tour:
"I've opted out of my position of being with the team and being comfortable because I want to continue to still be the bell cow. So that's how I want teams to look at me. That's how I'm going to shop myself."
So how much bell cowing can Steven Jackson do next season, at age 30?
Jackson has averaged 4.3 yards per carry over the last two seasons. He played in all 16 last year and 15 the year before, but part of the formula for his effectiveness was limiting his carries. After two seasons of 300+ rushing attempts, Jackson had 260 and 257 in his last two seasons with the Rams.
Whatever team picks him up would be smart to run a similar 70/30 split on carries for Jackson, maybe more. That said, his play over the last two seasons make it look like he can still be an effective part of an offensive game plan.
That probably means, most likely means, that he is done with the Rams. Jeff Fisher was clear at the Combine and elsewhere that Isaiah Pead can be a go-to back in the NFL, and the Rams will be giving their younger players the lion's share of work this season.
The Falcons are believed to be his top suitor at this point. When the three-day negotiating window opens this weekend, I suspect we'll see a lot more teams calling his agent. I'd look for the Packers, Bengals, Broncos, Lions or even the Dolphins getting involved.
(UPDATED by 3k)
Here's the video of AxJax earlier today on SportsCenter: