As the season was beginning, the St. Louis Rams restructured the contract of running back Steven Jackson, a move that will likely make Jackson an unrestricted free agent after the season.
It was odd that almost one month after the new contract was filed with the league, the news was “leaked” to a national reporter on the day the Rams played the Cardinals (Oct. 4) in a nationally televised NFL Network game.
The reality is that when stories like this are revealed, the information usually comes from an agent. If that was the case with the Jackson story, it’s obvious it was done with the hope of getting maximum exposure and letting the NFL world know his career with the Rams could be winding down.
That Oct. 4 date was 26 days prior to the original trading deadline, which was delayed two days this week because of the massive storm that battered the East Coast.
Naturally, talk began that Jackson could be traded, and that speculation ratcheted up this past weekend with varying reports that Jackson was on the block or that the Rams were “listening to offers.”
Again, it’s highly likely those “reports” were fueled by agents. Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio, former NFL general manager Bill Polian said there were numerous times during his front-office days that he would hear rumors of his players about to be traded or the subject of discussions when that was the furthest thing from the truth.
“I would be sitting in my office,” Polian said, “and wonder, ‘Where is that coming from?’ Because it sure wasn’t happening.”
As for Jackson, Rams coach Jeff Fisher moved to quell the rampant speculation by saying Tuesday (without being asked), "The Steven Jackson rumors are rumors. He's our running back. We're not calling around nor are we getting calls, for that matter. So, I'll put that to rest."
Of course, no one but the Rams (and other teams) really know if they are “getting calls.” Even if they were, surely the team would likely say, “Blow us away with an offer, and we’ll listen. Anything else, let’s not waste anyone’s time.”
Still, there was ESPN’s Adam Schefter acknowledging Wednesday morning that Jackson won’t be traded, but then claiming surprise that is the case. Stating teams aren’t willing to pay the price for Jackson, Schefter claimed he could be acquired for “a song.”
Now, admittedly, I’m not quite sure what “song” Schefter was talking about (he didn’t say and wasn’t asked by the hosts what “a song” constituted), but it makes no sense for the Rams to accept anything less than a second-round pick for Jackson.
With half a season to play, Jackson has more value to the Rams on the roster this year than a potential late third-round pick or anything later in the round that they might acquire. Consider that if Jackson becomes an unrestricted free agent in March, it’s possible that, if he leaves, depending on the contract he receives, the Rams could be awarded as high as a third-round compensatory pick. Granted, that wouldn’t be until 2014, but the compensatory pick could be higher than the choice the Rams would receive in a trade.
Amid all the breathless reporting by ESPN analysts and Internet rumor spreaders, the compensatory pick angle hasn’t even been mentioned. So much for providing the whole story.
Schefter also claimed to be surprised that teams haven’t shown serious interest. Frankly, I’d be surprised if there was (discounting an alleged offer by the Cowboys to give the Rams two second-round picks). Something tells me if the Rams were offered that, they would jump on it.
After all, as much as Jackson could certainly help a contending team, that club would have to pay him a shade north of $3.5 million for the rest of the season, and then have no guarantee he would re-sign after the season. NFL teams, certainly good ones, don’t have a history of wasting or giving away high draft picks.
In reality, there are many more reasons why a deal doesn’t make sense than why it does. Of course, that doesn’t stop the rumors from circulating no matter how specious or agent-driven they might be.
Thankfully, they will stop after 3 p.m. Thursday.
The only thing worse at this time of year are the dumbed-down political ads that are so pervasive they are actually more comical than serious. We’ll be rid of them next week, too, as TV and radio stations count the cash from the hijacking of our political system.