NFL Free Agency 2013: Steven Jackson, Michael Turner Likely Becoming Available

USA TODAY Sports

Neither move is official yet, but two durable starting running backs appear to be headed to free agency when it begins on March 12th.

In a move that surprises exactly nobody who follows the NFL, St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has apparently decided to void the final year of his contract and test the open market in free agency this March. The immediate speculation has begun that the Packers will begin courting Jackson for his services this year, in order to provide some semblance of a competent running game in Green Bay.

However, the Atlanta Falcons appear to be another suitable landing place for the former Ram, as it appears that they are ready to part ways with their own veteran back in Michael Turner. Whether they will look to replace him with another veteran, physical runner who is approximately the same age is yet to be determined.

The question now becomes whether Turner might be an intriguing option for Green Bay. We all know the rumors about Jackson, but Turner actually comes with less wear on his tires over his career, partially due to him backing up LaDainian Tomlinson for a few years in San Diego. However, since he became the starter in Atlanta in 2008, Turner actually has recorded fewer carries than Jackson over that same span (1411 to 1424). Turner also has a slightly higher yards per carry average (4.3 to 4.1) over that period.

Of course, the biggest advantage that Jackson has over Turner is the fact that he has dreadlocks, and would thus fit right into the Packers clubhouse. In all seriousness though, Jackson is a FAR better back in the passing game, and has more than triple the receptions and receiving yards of Turner over the past five seasons. In an offense like Green Bay's where the passing game will always be the most critical phase due to Aaron Rodgers' presence, having a back that can contribute in that phase of the game is significant. Therefore, signing Jackson should indeed be far preferable to Turner for Packers fans at this point in time.

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