Don’t expect Rams’ RB Steven Jackson to be wearing Packers green and gold anytime soon. Jackson to the Packers has been one of the more pervasive trade rumors floating around for the past couple weeks – a rumor which has only gotten stronger since the trade deadline was extended to Thursday.
It’s easy to see why Packers fans would get excited at the prospect of Jackson as a featured back for Green Bay, who have not had a 100-yard rusher since early in the season in 2010. But Rams head coach Jeff Fisher put the reports at rest. “The Steven Jackson rumors are just rumors,” he said Tuesday.
Fisher claimed that the Rams have not made any calls about Jackson, and more importantly, he said they have not received any. Either – an indication that Ted Thompson has not been reaching out regarding Jackson, and possibly, anyone. Since taking over in 2005, Thompson has only made two in-season trades. The Packers were in serious pursuit of Marshawn Lynch in 2010. But Thompson, whose system of building through the draft and track record at using draft picks wisely are well-established, refused to budge above a fourth-round pick for Lynch. Even given Jackson’s age at the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of this season, it’s hard to imagine the Rams letting him go for less than a third-round pick.
Another reason Thompson would not have made a serious move for Jackson is the amount of money he’s owed. Jackson’s remaining salary for this season is $3.7 million. If the Packers’ plan was only to use him to make a Super Bowl push and release him when he becomes a free agent next season, that’s an expensive short-term investment – the opposite of Thompson’s usual method.
Green Bay has about $8 million in salary-cap space. But Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and B.J. Raji are all about to be due for contract extensions and Thompson will no doubt want to use most of that space renegotiating the terms of their deals.
Another possible option the Packers are rumored to be looking into is Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams. But like Jackson, Williams is 29, and has been slowed in recent years by injuries. Moreover, he would be another short-term option that is unlikely to go for lower than a third or fourth-round pick, a price Thompson may simply not be willing to pay.
Making a move to acquire Cedric Benson in the preseason was already uncharacteristic for Thompson, and it seems unlikely that he would sacrifice cap space or draft picks for a short-term solution. Benson, who has been placed on limited IR with a foot injury, could return in Week 14, in time for a playoff push. And though head coach Mike McCarthy has expressed disappointment with Alex Green’s production so far. He said this week that Green has “earned his opportunities” and seems content to keep him in as the starter. Green has more breakaway potential than any RB on the Packers’ roster, and needs time to develop.
It’s important to remember that Thompson’s strategy for the Packers has always been “draft and develop.” And if they can continue to do that with Green and Starks, Green Bay can insure themselves and their run game for the future. In the meantime, if it’s a Super Bowl push they’re looking for, Benson should be back just in time to do it.