Five best fits for Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson could be a useful complementary running back for many teams. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Steven Jackson soon will hit the open market in free agency and there is a strong chance that he will be the most-sought running back. There are other big-name free-agent backs available, such as Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall and Ahmad Bradshaw, but Jackson offers more upside than any of them.

Running back is generally a low-priority position in free agency, and while the draft lacks star power at the position, it is a very deep running back draft. That means that this once again should be a buyer's market at running back in free agency.

But Jackson, even though he will be 30 years old when the 2013 season begins and has logged 2,802 career touches, can still be a difference-maker. Although he is a very powerful runner, Jackson also is a solid contributor in the passing game, both as a blocker and as an outlet receiver. He won't have to come off the field in clear throwing situations and also should handle the short-yardage detail as a ball carrier. Few backs have such a blend.

Last year, behind a dreadful St. Louis offensive line, Jackson ran with his usual outstanding competitiveness and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. He is a tough player who initiates contact and moves the pile with consistency. And he has played in 131 of a possible 144 career regular-season games, eclipsing 1,000 yards on the ground in each of the past eight seasons. Jackson has been very consistent despite playing on a lot of bad Rams teams throughout his career.

The Rams appear to be an up-and-coming team and their young core should improve dramatically with the wealth of draft assets they possess, but Jackson deserves a chance with a contending team.

Let's take a look at the five best fits for Jackson: