Free agent running back Steven Jackson isn’t interested in retirement just yet. But he is picky about just where he would like to ply his trade in 2015. In speaking with ESPN’s Nick Wagoner on Wednesday, Jackson said his days as a mentor to rebuilding teams are over.
Jackson, who spent nine seasons with the St. Louis Rams before joining the Atlanta Falcons for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, said to Wagoner that:
“I don’t want to go to a team that is rebuilding and needs me to come on and teach guys how to be professional. I’ve done that. I’ve been more than vocal about wanting to help young guys, but at some point I have to be a little selfish. I want to be part of a winning team because when I do hang up my cleats, I can see a lot of people holding that over my head when a lot of it was out of my control.”
In his 11 seasons, Jackson has rushed over 2,700 times, for 11,388 yards and 68 touchdowns. However, his two years spent with the Falcons were not as productive as his time with the Rams. He rushed 347 times for the Falcons, but earned just 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns—or 3.6 yards-per-carry, much lower than his career average of 4.2 yards. Though Atlanta signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract in 2013, the team released him this offseason, choosing to revamp their running game with younger players.
While Jackson waits for calls from teams to come in, he’s focusing on re-establishing the importance of the “workhorse back,” something Jackson has been throughout his career, but something that is also falling out of fashion in the NFL. He started a website, Savetherunningback.org, because, “I felt as the active leading rusher in the NFL, it was on me to carry the torch and talk about how the position is being devalued.” His supporters include Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and rookie Melvin Gordon.
Jackson’s ultimate goal is to retire as a St. Louis Ram, but for now he’d just like a playoff-contending team to call home. Though it could prove difficult—Jackson is turning 32 years old in July—he certainly has an impressive resume and proven chain-moving ability. But any team that is going to look to sign him isn’t going to make him their workhorse back as he was in the past. Even if an every-down running back were as prized as it used to be, Jackson’s time to single-handedly carry a team’s rushing game is in the past.
Photo: USA Today Sports