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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    What Does He Want ..??

    What does he want?
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    07/29/2008

    MEQUON, WIS. Running back Steven Jackson is $60,000 poorer after missing his fourth day of training camp Monday. And multiple sources have told the Post-Dispatch that there has been no dialogue whatsoever since talks broke off Friday afternoon.

    But a little-known provision in the collective bargaining agreement could be a huge detriment to a prolonged holdout by Jackson. According to the NFL Players Association, players under contract must report at least 30 days prior to the first regular-season game or else they lose an accrued season of seniority.

    The Rams open the regular season Sept. 7 in Philadelphia, so Jackson must report by Aug. 8 a week from Friday or else the 2008 season will not count toward his eligibility for free agency.

    Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be an issue for Jackson. He already has four years in the NFL, the minimum amount of seniority necessary to become an unrestricted free agent. But these are not normal times for the NFL.

    If the current collective bargaining agreement is voided, as is being threatened by team owners, one of the side provisions is that players would need six years' seniority to be eligible for free agency following the 2009 season. If Jackson holds out beyond Aug. 8, he would have only five years' seniority after the '09 season, and thus would be eligible only for restricted free agency (in which case the Rams would have matching rights on any outside offers).

    As ominous as that sounds, it seems unlikely that things will reach that point. There has been no rancor between the sides, either publicly or privately. Since his rare public comments Friday, Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations-general manager, has declined to comment. Meanwhile, Jackson's agent, Eugene Parker, has not returned multiple phone messages.

    Multiple sources told the Post-Dispatch that the Rams have offered Jackson a contract that would place him among the top four running backs in the NFL a figure that would top $7 million a year.

    Jackson, entering the fourth year of his original five-year contract, is scheduled to make $1.71 million this year. In terms of the overall value of his contract, which averages $1.5 million a year, Jackson is barely in the top 50 at his position. He was 45th among veteran players, according to NFLPA figures, but that didn't take into account this year's running back draft class, which includes first-rounders Darren McFadden and Jonathan Stewart.

    The Rams appear to have made a good-faith effort to rectify that, with an offer believed to be topped only by Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson.

    In that sense, the offer exceeds Jackson's production thus far in his NFL career. Jackson has topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of his past three seasons. Over that span, he ranks sixth in rushing yards (3,576) in the league. Among the top 25 rushing leaders from 2005 to 2007, Jackson is tied for seventh in touchdowns (26) and tied for 12th in yards per carry (4.3).

    Obviously, the tricky part is putting a value on Jackson's future production. There appears to be no doubt that he will be the centerpiece of the St. Louis offense under new coordinator Al Saunders. That brings with it the potential for 350 or more touches every season.

    Because of the wear and tear that comes with such a workload, that could lead to a desire by Jackson's agent for more money in the first four years of the contract, and more guaranteed money. One person at Rams camp, who knows Jackson well, said the running back wants at least $20 million in guaranteed money, which apparently is more than the Rams are offering.

    For now, at least, there is no acrimony and no panic on either side, even with Jackson getting fined $15,000 a day during his holdout. Young running backs Antonio Pittman and Brian Leonard are getting extra reps in Jackson's absence. That's a good thing. The new offense is halfback-friendly, so it's not as if Jackson is falling way behind on the playbook.

    Those close to Scott Linehan say the Rams head coach is not even close to frustration with Jackson at this point. There will come a time when that changes, one source said, but Linehan is not there yet.

    Linehan and Jackson have been text-messaging back and forth while the Rams are training at Concordia University.

    "(Jackson) just says, 'I'm working. I ran today. I lifted. How'd practice go?'" Linehan said. "I'm just kind of letting him know where we're at, some things that are going on. He's real focused on what's going on in camp. His head's definitely in the right place. It is important that we keep a line of communication open at this point."

    Linehan isn't the only one in camp in text contact with Jackson. In fact, it might be easier to compile a list of Rams players who haven't been contacted by Jackson.

    "He texted me the other day," defensive end Leonard Little said. "I called him and talked to him. He's a part of this team. There's a business side to this whole deal. Nothing personal with him against the Rams. Nothing personal with the Rams against him. They'll get something resolved and he'll be here."

    Jackson and Parker have remained steadfast in their desire not to contact members of the media. On Monday, a Jackson publicist politely informed the Post-Dispatch that neither Jackson nor Parker would talk to the media at this time.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    Gosh it all seems to good to be true. Great to read that Jackson is communicating with the Linehan and several of the players.

    However as each day passes during this holdout the chance of disrespect grows.

    I hope both sides can keep it friendly and clean.

  3. #3
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    Interesting detail about the likelihood of the collective bargaining agreement being voided. This would seem to give JZ more leverage. One thing seems sure though .. SJ will report rather than lose a year of seniority IMO ..

  4. #4
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    The Rams appear to have made a good-faith effort to rectify that, with an offer believed to be topped only by Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson.

    In that sense, the offer exceeds Jackson's production thus far in his NFL career. Jackson has topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of his past three seasons. Over that span, he ranks sixth in rushing yards (3,576) in the league. Among the top 25 rushing leaders from 2005 to 2007, Jackson is tied for seventh in touchdowns (26) and tied for 12th in yards per carry (4.3).
    Personally, if the offer presented by the Rams is true, I think the Rams offer was fair. The article says that SJ wants at least 20 mil guarenteed? ...on what grounds does he take that stance? His potential? The stats clearly show that SJ has not been one of the top 4 backs the past 3 years, even though the Rams offered to compensate him as such. SJ wants LT type money because he thinks he's better then he's proven? He may be right. ...some day. But LT has proven time and time again that he's a top back. SJ has only shown brief flashes of that. I'm sorry, but I'm siding with management on this one. (and with Rams management, that's hard for me to say)

    He'd be wise to get his behind into camp, learn the new offense, begin discussions on a new contract with the Rams, and play some damn football.

    I know that there are a number of fans that believe SJ's simply looking out for himself, and will use the argument that a career in football is often very short, and he needs to secure his future. I understand that. But what if you were part of management? Would you honestly be willing to sign a huge guaranteed contract to a guy with plenty of potential, but who has yet to play more than one full season healthy? Would it be a wise investment to guarantee 20 mil to a guy that already has had fairly serious neck issues in his short NFL career? I wouldn't. He hasn't exactly proven himself to be Mr. Durable, which by the way, was a knock on him when he came into the NFL. He has yet to prove otherwise, IMHO. I guess what I'm sayng is I'm not having trouble with the large contract, which the Rams have already offered, but the guaranteed money that SJ wants.

  5. #5
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    I believe the Rams have made a very generous offer. But like everything in the world, agents set the world ablaze. Jackson deserves good money...but not THAT good.

    I just hope they fix it soon. I'm getting sick of it.

  6. #6
    YodaRam Guest

    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    Personally, if the offer presented by the Rams is true, I think the Rams offer was fair. The article says that SJ wants at least 20 mil guarenteed? ...on what grounds does he take that stance? His potential? The stats clearly show that SJ has not been one of the top 4 backs the past 3 years, even though the Rams offered to compensate him as such. SJ wants LT type money because he thinks he's better then he's proven? He may be right. ...some day. But LT has proven time and time again that he's a top back. SJ has only shown brief flashes of that. I'm sorry, but I'm siding with management on this one. (and with Rams management, that's hard for me to say)

    He'd be wise to get his behind into camp, learn the new offense, begin discussions on a new contract with the Rams, and play some damn football.

    I know that there are a number of fans that believe SJ's simply looking out for himself, and will use the argument that a career in football is often very short, and he needs to secure his future. I understand that. But what if you were part of management? Would you honestly be willing to sign a huge guaranteed contract to a guy with plenty of potential, but who has yet to play more than one full season healthy? Would it be a wise investment to guarantee 20 mil to a guy that already has had fairly serious neck issues in his short NFL career? I wouldn't. He hasn't exactly proven himself to be Mr. Durable, which by the way, was a knock on him when he came into the NFL. He has yet to prove otherwise, IMHO. I guess what I'm sayng is I'm not having trouble with the large contract, which the Rams have already offered, but the guaranteed money that SJ wants.
    Thank you. Couldn't have said it better myself! I'm pretty sure that nobody is holding a gun to Jacksons head ( maybe his agent ) to get a deal done now.
    Guaranteed money? With SJ that's risky business.

  7. #7
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    I think he's pretty crazy to be bailing right now. I can't imagine any RB not wanting to play for Saunders and I'm sure Pittman is secretly wishing SJ just keeps holding out. I wouldn't begrudge Jackson's camp for countering the Rams' offer(if true) but to simply decline it sure doesn't make him look good in my eyes. As much as it pains me, I would probably side with management on this one. SJ should be smart enough to realize he's not holding the winning cards on this one and get his butt in camp. That he would try a power play at this stage doesn't endear me to him or make me empathize.

    How does this inspire the Rams to work with him or not slap the franchise tag on him when his contract is up? Good luck, SJ.

  8. #8
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    Re: What Does He Want ..??

    They wouldn't give him his own dressing room and a bowl of only blue and yellow M&Ms before the game.

    Nah, I don't know what the hang-up is, but it'll probably all work itself out. He's not out there trying to force a trade or anything. He seems to want to be here, and the Rams are willing to shell out money to make sure he stays. I'm sure they can close whatever gap remains between the two sides.

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