The Atlanta Falcons added another key piece on Thursday in what the team hopes to be a Super Bowl run, adding veteran running back Steven Jackson to the fold with a 3-year deal, $12 million deal with $4 million guaranteed.
The deal, which finally gives the Falcons a new face at running back following Michael Turner’s release, gives Atlanta the most talented free agent running back of this offseason in Jackson, who racked up 1,042 yards and four touchdowns on 257 carries for St. Louis last season.
Jackson’s success and reliability with the Rams over the past nine seasons has been as impressive as any running back’s in recent memory, as the former Oregon State player’s eight straight seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards trails only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin for the longest streaks all-time.
Some fans throughout social media and the blogosphere has made hints of Jackson being an unreliable back due to his health, but the numbers say otherwise. Over the past four seasons, he has missed a grand total of two games, with one coming in 2011 and the other back in 2009. It is safe to say that Jackson has played games hurt, which any starting back in the NFL will do, but to speculate that his health should be a red flag going into this deal with the Falcons is ludicrous.
As if Jackson’s ability to run the ball was not exciting enough, his skills catching the ball out of the backfield undoubtedly have Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter smiling ear to ear right now. Jackson did his fair share of receiving during his time in St. Louis, averaging close to 45 receptions for 370 yards per season. Just compare those statistics to former Falcon Michael Turner, whose average was a paltry 12 receptions for 18 yards in his five seasons with the team.
To put it simply, Atlanta’s high-flying offense added another dangerous piece in Jackson, and although the move does not guarantee the team a running back for the next five years, it does secure the position for at least the next two. Jackson has showed no signs of slowing down over the past few seasons with the Rams despite playing for teams that were not exactly competitive in what was at the time a weak NFC West, and his need to play for a competitive team led him to first void his contract with St. Louis and then sign with the Falcons. Now that Jackson’s signing has for the most part secured the offense, it is time for Thomas Dimitroff and Company to go to work on the defense.
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