rushed for over 1,000 yards every season but his first with the Rams
. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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.
Turner was not the only problem on the ground, but the aging veteran certainly appeared to be wearing down in recent seasons -- he managed just 800 yards rushing last year. Jackson, meanwhile, has not finished below the 1K line since his rookie season of 2004. He still made it to 1,042 yards in 2012, despite a continued reduction in his carries.
Jackson's also one of the best all-around backs in the game, adept as a pass-catcher or blocker. He's averaged 45 catches per season in his career and should help Atlanta keep Matt Ryan upright.
The Falcons had been relatively quiet in free agency up until Jackson's signing, their lone move being the re-signing of offensive tackle Sam Baker. However, tight end Tony Gonzalez announced earlier this week that he planned to return in 2013 (the two sides continue to work toward a new contract). Those moves plus Jackson's addition all but guarantee that the Falcons will put up a ton of points in 2013.
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.
We'll see how the money shakes out here -- the Falcons probably gave themselves an out after one or two years, since Jackson will turn 30 in July. They may not want to reverse course, though, if Jackson fits in here as well as it looks like he will.