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Rams' Jackson's contract remains open question

The SportsXchange

Rams players voted running back Steven Jackson a captain this season, and he has often said he wants to retire a Ram. The question now is whether that will happen following a contract adjustment signed by Jackson on Sept. 8, one day before the start of the regular season.

While numerous reports Thursday evening said Jackson has the option of voiding the 2013 final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, my sources indicate the void is automatic if Jackson is on the Rams roster five days after the Super Bowl, which would be Feb. 8.

Certainly, there is the possibility that his contract could be renegotiated again before Feb. 8 or that an agreement could occur after Feb. 8, prior to the start of the league year in March. However, the current arrangement occurred because the two parties weren't able to reach agreement on a contract extension beyond 2013 when Jackson will turn 30 and is scheduled to be paid $7 million. His salary is also $7 million for this season.

The Feb. 8 date precludes a trade unless the void terms are changed because deals can't be made until the start of the league year. The Rams could release Jackson after the Feb. 3 Super Bowl and before Feb. 8, but that is unlikely because the Rams would then get no draft-pick compensation for him if he signed with another team.

By simply allowing the void to occur, the Rams could receive compensation in 2014 depending on the deal he would sign with a new team. The Rams would also retain the ability to place a franchise or transition tag on Jackson prior to the beginning of the league year, assuming they didn't give up that right in the renegotiation. This year, the franchise figure for running backs was $7.742 million.

Obviously, as this season develops, the lingering question will be whether the Rams will want him back and at what price. For Jackson's part, it could very well come down to how much he would accept to stay. He could always test the market in March and see how much interest there is in a 30-year-old running back.

Jackson insisted Thursday night that he wants to be here. He likes what the team is doing, even with some of the struggles on offense. "As an offense we still have some ways we can get better," he said. "If we grow at the rate that I think we should and we will grow, we're going to be a very dangerous team."

Asked about his contract situation, Jackson said, "It's a part of the business. I've said that from the beginning that, even in 2004, I wanted to retire here. This organization gave me the opportunity to live out a dream. In 2008 they extended me and at the end of the season we'll see what happens with me. But something is happening here and I want to be a part of it."
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