Steven Jackson officially voided the final year of his contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent March 12, a league source confirmed to The Sports Xchange.
Jackson was scheduled to be paid $7-million in 2013, but an agreement in September between Jackson and the team gave him the right to void the final year of his deal to test the open market.
Jackson, a first-round pick in 2004 out of Oregon State, has only played for the Rams. He turns 30 on July 22 and despite a history of minor injuries, he has an active streak of eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Agent Eugene Parker acknowledged that the door isn’t closed to the possibility that Jackson could still end up re-signing with the team.
Coach Jeff Fisher said he remains confident and optimistic a way will be figured out for Jackson to return.
Said Fisher, “Jack knows how I feel about him and that we want him back.”
If Jackson were to leave, the Rams would be more likely to look to the draft as opposed to free agency for more talent at the position.
Returning to the roster are three second-year players: Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, second– and seventh-round picks by the Rams last year, and Terrance Ganaway, a Jets sixth-round pick that the Rams claimed on waivers.
“They’re options,” Fisher said. “We drafted Isaiah because we felt like he has a chance to be a good back, not necessarily just a change-of-pace back for Jack, but the guy. Daryl can be the guy. Most everybody is using multiple backs in their offense. Ganaway has an opportunity and there’s a number of really good backs in the draft this year.”
Said general manager Les Snead, “Those guys, Pead toward the end of the year, Daryl at the beginning and middle proved they can play in the league as well as Steven made some big runs for us. So what you will always do is they will all have a role. Richardson is going to have a role, Pead is going to have a role, they are all going to have a role and we are going to utilize those roles.”
Of course, what Jackson brings to the table is a veteran presence in the locker room, of which there isn’t a lot on the team’s roster.
Said Fisher, “I can’t say enough good things about Steven, the true pro that he is. When you talk about bringing in a guy, you have got to look at the whole package. He’s still got run skills. He’s been really productive his whole career there and he does wonders in the locker room and off the field in the community and so forth. I am disappointed I didn’t get to spend a lot more time with him earlier in his career.”
The Rams also saved $4-million against the 2013 salary cap by releasing offensive tackle Wayne Hunter on Wednesday.
Starting right tackle Barry Richardson, who started every game in 2012, is scheduled to be a free agent.