Sports Illustrated’s Peter King got all of Packers Nation talking Friday when he was caught on video telling St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson that he’s gotta “go to Green Bay” and Jackson saying that it “makes sense.” But the talk today is that Jackson’s best bet will be the Atlanta Falcons, who are looking at replacing Michael Turner who was cut late last week. Chris Wessling, an Around the League writer for NFL.com posted today that according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jackson’s best move would be to go to the Falcons. However, he also doesn’t write off the Packers and also makes mention of the Denver Broncosas another team that might have an interest in Jackson.
The real question on this end is whether the Packers have an actual interest in Jackson. There have been no rumblings coming from anyone associated with the Packers on any type of interest or even any contact with the runner who is a perennial 1,000-yard rusher. The Packers running game was in a shambles last year after Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury a few weeks into the season. The Packers attempted to push second-year runner Alex Green into the position, but it was clear after a few weeks that he wasn’t going to be the guy. oft-injured James Starks made a brief comeback and showed some of his 2010 abilities, but he, too, went down with injury. The Packers then turned to DuJuan Harris late in the season and he showed some spunk and power – however, most agree he would be most effective as a change-of-pace back and not an every down back. And while the Packers brought back Ryan Grant late in the season, he was mostly ineffective and won’t be brought back in 2013. Jackson would fill that role as he not only runs with power, but catches the ball out of the backfield well. Whether Ted Thompson would want to commit – or whether he has the money to commit – to Jackson is a question only he can answer. The Packers are around $21 million under the salary cap, but when you start adding up the funds that will be needed to sign restricted free agents, draft choices and undrafted free agents, you’re looking at least $7 million. That still leaves the Packers with what might seem plenty of cash until you look at who they have yet to sign – quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews - for sure – and possibly defensive lineman B.J. Raji.
Just Rodgers alone is going to command more than $20 million per year and Matthews will most likely get at least half that, so the bank account will be quickly depleted. The only way Thompson frees up more money is if he cuts ties with tight end Jermichael Finley, who’s due a bunch of money at the end of March, or linebacker A.J. Hawk, who will be due more than $5 million this year. Those are intriguing situations which have Packers Nation divided at this time, but will be resolved sometime soon. So, in the end, Jackson may end up going to Atlanta or Denver because the Packers can’t afford it. Though Jackson is right – from a football standpoint, having him in the Green and Gold does make a lot of sense. Stay tuned.