What Are the Experts Saying About Steven Jackson to the Atlanta Falcons?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 14, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 9: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams carries the ball during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The news just keeps getting better and better for the Atlanta Falcons.

Fresh of the heels of the announcement that tight end Tony Gonzalez would return for a 17th NFL season, and the re-signing of left tackle Sam Baker, the Falcons have gotten even better offensively.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter reports, the Falcons have agreed to terms on a three-year deal with free-agent running back Steven Jackson.

The 29-year-old Jackson rushed for 1,042 yards last year for the St. Louis Rams, and as ESPN's official SportsCenter Twitter pointed out, Jackson's resume is in a class of its own among active running backs.

With Jackson joining quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and presumably Gonzalez in Atlanta, the NFL Network's Around the League remarked on the abundance of firepower the Falcons now have on offense.

The NFL Network's Akbar Gbajabiamila echoed those thoughts.

Colleague Ian Rapoport hailed the move as another shrewd signing by an Atlanta team enjoying a very shrewd offseason.

Meanwhile, Schefter pointed out that this is a move the Falcons have been contemplating dating back to last season.

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated was also a fan of the move, grading it as an "A."

While Burke reserved the right to change that once financial terms are revealed, he called the move a "net gain" over the departed Michael Turner.

Michael Turner out, Steven Jackson in. For the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense, that’s a net gain. The Falcons and Jackson agreed to a three-year deal on Thursday, a move that should bring a little more giddy-up to a run game that finished 29th in the league last season.

Jackson may no longer be the back that rushed for 1,528 yards in 2006 and 1,416 in 2009. But he remains a reliable, hard-nosed runner, capable of aiding an offense no matter what he’s asked to do.

John Clayton of ESPN was yet another scribe that expressed the prevailing sentiment—that this was an excellent move by the Falcons.

Like Burke, I'd like to hold off on passing final judgment until the numbers come out, but at first glance it's difficult not to agree with that assessment.

Yes, Jackson has more career carries than any active running back in the National Football League. However, he has also topped 1,000 yards on the ground in eight straight seasons. Furthermore, even with all the wear on his tires, Jackson still represents a significant upgrade over Turner.

For his part, Jackson feels he still has plenty left in the tank, at least according to what he told Sirius XM Radio earlier this week (via ESPN):

"For where I'm at, going into Year 10, I'm not ready to step back and just become a primary backup or a reduced-role guy to be part of a running back by committee," Jackson said on Sirius XM NFL Radio last week. "I still have a lot left in my tank. I still have a lot left to offer to a team. We're not talking about someone that's in Year 12 or 13."

Add in the fact that Jackson is a more-than-capable receiver—with over 400 career receptions—and a solid pass-blocker, and an already potent Atlanta offense just gained another dimension.

Simply put, the acquisition of Steven Jackson by the Atlanta Falcons kicked up the NFC arms race another notch. As Bleacher Report's own Sigmund Bloom pointed out, the race to the Super Bowl in that half of the NFL just got a lot more interesting.

You can say that again.