The NFL gave the St. Louis Rams an extra two days to field calls for veteran RB Steven Jackson. The Rams still decided to stand pat with their All-Pro back.
Because of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on New York City where the league’s offices reside, the NFL pushed the trade deadline from Tuesday to Thursday. The unexpected extension led to increased speculation that the Rams might move their franchise back, who can become a free agent after the season, but the deadline came and went without Jackson changing teams.
Thursday afternoon, Jackson addressed the rumors and said he didn’t take any of it personally.
“I was very aware of trade speculation and what was going on,” Jackson said. “But one thing about me, and even going back to my holdout, I understand that this is a business and that if a particular team has options or are taking phone calls, doesn’t mean they want to get rid of me. It’s just the interest of other teams and seeing what may happen or may transpire with my contract, especially, it may be in there at the end of the season. I’m not offended by it, nor am I going to be distracted by it. I’m ready to go into this bye week, get away for the weekend, but come back ready to finish strong these next eight games.”
After rumors of the organization shopping their star running back became more prevalent leading up to the deadline, Rams coach Jeff Fisher came out earlier in the week and dismissed them as simply rumors.
Still, listening to offers on Jackson was in the team’s best interest, regardless of whether they were actively shopping him. The organization has put an emphasis on acquiring draft picks and young talent, as evidenced by the team trading the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft for a package centered around three first-round picks, including one in each of the next two years’ drafts. Jackson, 29, doesn’t seem to fit into that plan, seemingly making him expendable at the deadline.
Also making him more expendable has been the play of RB Daryl Richardson. Richardson has been effective running the ball in limited carries through the first eight games, leading some to wonder if he’s ready for an increased role. Sharing time has been a new experience for Jackson.
“It’s a huge adjustment, but I think the more you embrace change, it makes things for transition work a little easier,” Jackson said. “That’s why I try to do my best, is just be a veteran that I know I can be. Go out there, take advantage of the opportunity that is given to me, run hard, and show the young guys behind me how to be a professional on and off the field.”
For now, Jackson and Richardson will coexist in the Rams backfield. Jackson said he isn’t yet looking toward the end of the year, rather focusing on the task at hand. As far as his hopes for the rest of this season, Jackson said he’d like to achieve something he’s never done in his professional career.
“Hopefully, a winning record,” Jackson said. “I have yet to be a part of that.”