It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be looking to improve their running game in 2013 after finishing 26th overall in the league in rushing yards per game and 28th overall in rushing yards per play in 2012. One player that several Steelers fans hope that the team takes a look at in free agency is St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, who could choose to void the final year of contract just prior to free agency starting.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about Jackson and his pending situation on Saturday, and he even listed the Steelers as one of three logical suitors for him should he indeed choose to void the final year of his contract, which is scheduled to earn him $7 million in 2013.
Now before you get your hopes up that Jackson will be wearing the black and gold next season it is important to note that even Thomas understands how cap strapped the Steelers will be in 2013. Thomas also points out that Jackson will more than likely be looking for a multi-year deal in addition.
On top of everything else, Jackson will be 30 years old in July, which is a taboo age for running backs, especially ones that have as much mileage on them as Jackson does. The Oregon State product has rushed for over 1,000 yards for eight straight seasons now, but his best years are likely long behind him now.
While many will try to point to Jerome Bettis as a reason why the Steelers should again add another Rams running back during the offseason, you need to remember that Bettis had only been in the league for 3 seasons when the Steelers traded for him prior to the 1996 season. The only similarity here is that both running backs wore a Rams helmet. That\’s it.
I also shouldn\’t have to remind you about the last big name running back that the Steelers added during free agency either. Anyone remember Duce Staley? The Steelers signed him to a five-year, $14 million contract that included a $4 million signing bonus in 2004 and he ended up playing a total of 16 games in three seasons. Staley, who was 29 years old when the Steelers signed him, spent more time in sweatpants on Sundays during his time in Pittsburgh than he did in his uniform. There is no way that General Manager Kevin Colbert runs the risk of that ever happening again.
The Steelers are most likely going to address their need at the running back position early on in the draft, not in free agency. If they do by some miracle add a running back in free agency it will be on the cheap and it won\’t be a big name such as Jackson.