Nov. 25, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: St. Louis Rams running back (39) Steven Jackson runs the ball in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson Almost Joined the Green Bay Packers in 2009


While we wait with baited breath for Steven Jackson to announce where he’ll play in 2013, let’s remember back to 2009 when the now former-St. Louis Rams running back nearly ended up in Green Bay.

Torry Holt was one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the 2000s, but in 2009 he was age 33 with his best days behind him.

It was a very tumultuous time in St. Louis’s history. The Rams were coming off an appalling 2-14 season which saw head coach Scott Linehan axed after four games. Linehan never earned the respect of the team leaders Torry Holt, Marc Bulger, and the aforementioned Jackson, and the entire season was marked by mutiny.

When interim head coach Jim Haslett failed to shift the momentum, St. Louis made sweeping changes. Billy Devaney was promoted to general manager, and within a month the team also had a new head coach. Steve Spagnuolo, fresh off a championship season as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, was brought in for the rebuild.

With these pillars now in place, the Rams looked to expunge their bloat and rebuild the roster with young talent on cheap contracts. St. Louis released Torry Holt in early March, and team officials began discussing internally the possibility of trading their franchise running back.

At this time, Green Bay was right in the middle of its transition out of the Brett Favre era. Aaron Rodgers, while extremely impressive in his first season under center, was not enough for the team to overcome its various deficiencies. Head coach Mike McCarthy hired Dom Capers to remodel the defense while GM Ted Thompson made a few calls to see who might upgrade the other side of the ball.

With Aaron Rodgers a full season into his career as a starter and Driver and Jennings forming one of the NFL’s best wideout tandems, the Packers believed their offense was about to take off.

The Packers offense wasn’t without talent, however. Besides Rodgers, Green Bay boasted two 1,000 yard receivers in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and a 1,200 yard back, Ryan Grant. Not wanting to dilute the air attack, Thompson made a formal offer to the Rams for the suddenly available Steven Jackson. The compensation details vary depending on the source, but the offer did include Grant and draft picks.

What appealed to Green Bay was not only Jackson’s powerful running style, but also his utility in the passing game. Jackson had just caught 40 passes out of the backfield for 379 yards, the first of a five-year streak of 300+ yard receiving seasons that continues through today. The running back also demonstrated reliable pass blocking, something that Grant had not developed (and never would). Thompson felt that with Jackson, Green Bay could vault into the upper echelon of the league.

Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant (79) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

But it was not to be. The Rams ultimately decided to hold onto their star player, hoping that he would be part of the turnaround in St. Louis.

As we know now, the Packers ended up a playoff team without Jackson in 2009, and a Super Bowl Champion a year later. The Rams, on the other hand, have yet to win their division, make the playoffs, or even break .500 in the years since their near trade with Green Bay.

Now with a championship under his belt, Thompson can’t be too upset the Rams kept Jackson. He’ll have even less reason to care if Jackson signs with the Packers – at discount – later this week.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Lombardi Ave. He has previously written for Hail to the Orange, College Hoops Net, Mocking the Draft, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.

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Tags: Ryan Grant St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson Ted Thompson