The St. Louis Rams said last week they would void running back Steven Jackson's final year of his contract. The move was definitely surprising, after all, how many teams actually void contracts of star players? But it was shrewd, and makes perfect sense for the Rams and for Jackson.
Jackson is in his ninth season with the Rams. He's already the franchises leading rusher, ahead of Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk. So, since he already has that label, there's no sticky situation the Rams can get into if they release him a few yards short of that milestone.
With the shorter careers of today's running backs, it makes perfect sense for the Rams to let him walk. They don't have to worry about getting into a public relations battle with one of the all-time franchise greats. Jackson is 29, and is entering the stage of his career that many other similar running backs just don't make it through. Curtis Martin, a recent HOF inductee (2012), played in only 11 seasons. Fred Taylor played in 12 seasons. LaDanian Tomlinson played in 11 seasons. I mention those as points of reference for the career arc for Steven Jackson. With nine seasons under him, it is unlikely he plays another three or four years after this one.
I'll hand it to the Rams brass. They know they're rebuilding. The Rams have a new coach in Jeff Fisher, and just drafted running back Isiah Pead in the second round. They also, in another shrewd move, traded this years first round pick to Washington (RGIII), so they get Washington's first round pick next year, plus their normal pick.
The Rams front office looks like their building a solid foundation. And the best thing they could do was let Steven Jackson walk.