The Falcons signed Steven Jackson in 2013, believing he was one of the players who would help them get to a Super Bowl. Nobody believed that more than the running back himself, who told me before this past season,“When I came here last year, I kind of believed my own hype. The team was so close to going to the Super Bowl, and I thought I was going to be the missing link. Then reality slaps you.”
Jackson’s arrival was trumpeted with a news conference. His exit came in a brief press release Thursday night.
Jackson will be one of several veterans from the last two seasons, when the Falcons went 10-22, who won’t be retained. As I wrote recently, the Falcons went only 4-12 and 6-10 in the last two seasons, despite spending $279.3 million in salary. That equated to the least productive payroll in the NFL. Jackson collected $8.25 million of his three-year, $12 million contract, but rushed for only 1,250 yards, 3.6 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns in 27 games.
Granted, Jackson was 29 when the Falcons signed him, often a tipping point age for running backs. But he was coming off eight straight 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons in St. Louis and averaged 40-plus receptions with the Rams. So at the time of the signing, it looked like a good move.
It’s possible if Jackson had stayed healthy and the team had a better offensive line, he would have been far more productive. But instead, his tenure with the team has to be viewed as an abject failure, much like the signing of defensive end Osi Umeniyiora (who will be an unrestricted free agent and likely won’t be re-signed).
New coach Dan Quinn wants his team to have more speed. Expect the Falcons’ moves to reflect that. Guard Justin Blalock had back problems last season and is scheduled to have the team’s third highest salary cap figure in 2015 ($7.91 million). He also could either be among cuts or have his deal restructured.
Also expect the Falcons to make a move for a running back, either in free agency or the draft.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Can Kevin Seitzer avoid being Braves’ next scapegoat — AJC: Freeman on ’14 roster: Heyward leading off not well-constructed lineup — MyAJC: By any name, Braves need a different Upton — AJC: How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement? — MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them — AJC: I still can’t talk to Roger McDowell without thinking of ‘The Second Spitter’ — AJC: Poll: Are expectations for Braves too low, high or about right? — MyAJC: Will Gonzalez be given some latitude during Braves’ rebuilding? — MyAJC: Falcons’ roster gutting could have big names — AJC: Data show Falcons got least (10-22) from most ($279.3 million) — MyAJC: Georgia shows why we still can’t assume success — AJC: Are Hawks getting Ray Allen? Odds site makes them favorite — MyAJC: Private agendas still at play in Hawks’ offices — AJC: Tiger Woods seems in danger of missing Masters (again) — AJC: Trade likely means Hawks are planning for something — MyAJC: Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, has absorbed a lot of jabs — AJC: Greg Hardy skates (and is he worth the risk for Falcons)? — MyAJC: Hawks’ deadline move wouldn’t hurt chemistry — AJC: Tech doing just fine, recruiting rankings notwithstanding — MyAJC: Dan Quinn’s ascent to top job was years in making — AJC: Forget trade talk — Dan Quinn wants Julio Jones on his team — AJC: Falcons need players but Dan Quinn is a good start — MyAJC: Tom Brady takes the air out of critics in Super Bowl