Steven Jackson is now 29 years old and has 2138 career carries. The average member of the top-25 all-time leaders in rushing yards has his last 1000 yard season at age 30 and 2602 career carries (Jackson currently sits at 32nd all-time and will likely finish his career in the top-25). After that players have a big drop off and they average just 169 carries per season at 3.5 yards per carry and just 5 touchdowns, so they’re really a non-factor as a back. Because of this, the Rams wisely decided to use a 2nd round pick on a running back, Isaiah Pead, in this past NFL Draft.
Nonetheless, they are still working on an extension with Steven Jackson, as he revealed in an interview with Pro Football Talk this week. Jackson is owed 7 million per year over the final 2 years of his contract, which take him through his age 30 season. Based on history, Jackson cannot be counted on to contribute much in 2014 and beyond and may even break down before that.
An extension would seemingly serve no purpose except as an act of good faith for a player who has been so tough for so many years on an otherwise mediocre team. Still, it probably would not be a wise football decision, unless it was similar to the extension that Adrian Wilson recently signed and cut his base salary over the next 2 seasons and didn’t guarantee any new money. Wilson, in exchange, got his salary for the next 2 seasons guaranteed, albeit at a smaller base salary, and was given incentives that would allow Wilson to “earn back” his old base salary. Jackson did express he wants to retire as a member with the Rams, so maybe a deal like that would make sense for both sides.
Jackson also admitted in the same interview that he would not be happy if the Rams tried to give Pead a large role as a rookie and said he wants to remain a “workhorse” who gets “25 to 30 touches per game.” The Rams would be wisest to allow Pead to prove himself as more than a pure backup as a rookie, which would keep Jackson fresher down the stretch, and deal with the fallout with an aging and no longer indispensable Jackson if there indeed would be any. Pead is the future, likely working in tandem with another power back.