Jackson ends camp-long holdout, reports on Thursday
ST. LOUIS -- Rams running back Steven Jackson ended his holdout on Wednesday and St. Louis appeared on the verge of signing him to a new multiyear contract.
Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he had agreed "in principle" to terms of a deal. He added that once a few details were ironed out, "We'll be pretty much done."
The 235-pound Jackson, a bruising runner and the centerpiece of the Rams' offense, is entering the final season of a five-year, $7 million deal he signed as a first-round pick in 2004. His prolonged stand perhaps reflected a realization of his value to an attack that averaged only 16 points last season while the team went 3-13.
Jackson told the newspaper in a story on its Web site that the stalemate had been about a difference in philosophy. He said talks "recommenced" late last week, and Jackson booked a flight from Las Vegas to St. Louis on Wednesday when a deal appeared imminent.
The end of his holdout was first reported by ESPN's Michael Smith.
The Rams cut off negotiations in late July on the first day of training camp after Jackson's agent, Eugene Parker, turned down a deal the team said would have put Jackson in the top echelon at his position.
At that time, Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations, said there would be no further talks until the running back reported.
"This is certainly a step in the right direction," coach Scott Linehan said. "We're hoping we can get this thing squared away real quickly."
Parker did not return a telephone message from the AP.
Jackson is scheduled for a physical Thursday morning and could make it onto the practice field that day. The Rams have a workout scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
"Steven is one of the best players in the NFL and we'd like to have him back," linebacker Chris Draft said Wednesday before Jackson ended his holdout.
Jackson had his third consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2007 despite missing four games with injuries and the Rams had made signing him to a contract extension a priority in the offseason. Zygmunt said the team approached Jackson's agent not long after the season to discuss a new deal, but negotiations stalled when Jackson switched representatives and signed with Parker in late June.
Linehan said earlier in the week that he didn't think it would take Jackson long to learn the new offense similar to that run by the 1999 Super Bowl championship team, because he participated in offseason workouts. New offensive coordinator Al Saunders was a top assistant under Dick Vermeil on that team.
Throughout the holdout, Linehan was careful to avoid criticism of Jackson. However, after the backup running backs combined for 144 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown in a 7-6 preseason victory over the Chargers on Saturday, the coach said Jackson's absence was getting to the critical stage.
It's likely Jackson will get a rude welcome back from fans in the Rams' third preseason game against the Ravens on Saturday. The Rams failed to sell out three games last season and Jackson was often critical of the lack of support.
Antonio Pittman, signed by the Rams last season after the Saints drafted him in the fourth round and then released him in their final roster cuts, gained 67 yards on nine carries last week as the stand-in feature back.
"I would approach it the same way if he was here," Pittman said. "I'm trying to compete and get better every day. Competition pushes us all and you can't look too far ahead. If you do, you might not be here."Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. Michael Smith covers the NFL for ESPN.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Sources: UM optimistic at landing Harbaugh
- Reports: Manziel party led to Gordon's ban
- Sources: Some Bears coaches fear firings
- Source: Gordon to fight for pay, FA status
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
TRAINING CAMP 2008
Commentary/featuresWarner proves he has future
The Cardinals gave Kurt Warner the chance to compete with Matt Leinart for the starting spot, and the 37-year-old quarterback made the most of the opportunity. John Clayton
Pennington's learning curve
It seemed the Jets could not help Chad Pennington pack his bags fast enough. Now the most experienced QB on the Dolphins, he's relishing the chance to excel again.
• Kreidler: Future still promising for 49ers' Smith
• Clayton: Injuries impact preseason
• Seifert: A new approach in Detroit
• Smith: Favre drama a reality check for McNabb
• Kuharsky: Titans focused on defense
• Sando: Running key for Holmgren's swan song
• Mosley: Giants hope history teaches well
• Garber: Coughlin distances from SB win
• Williamson: Chiefs engergized by youth
• Chadiha: O-line might hold real keys for Jets
• Wickersham: Three tips for Favre
• Mosley: Giants done with celebrating
• Naylor: Canadian divide on NFL invasion
• Graham: Sleeper Bills | Blog: Yo, Canada
• Seifert: For a change, no distractions for Vikes
• Mosley: McNabb confident Eagles among elite
• Kuharsky: Garrard taking control
• Mosley: Eagles poised to return to prominence
• Clayton: Young on his way to elite status
• Kuharsky: Garrard ready to lead Jags
• Chadiha: Delhomme determined to seize moment
• Yasinskas: Smith's approach suits Falcons
• Mosley: Zorn's coaching desire finally fulfilled
• Williamson: Young Raiders share Kiffin's hunger
• Graham: Jets wiping slate clean
• Chadiha: Turner ready to lead Falcons
• Clayton: Vikings firmly in Jackson's corner
• Walker: Tough schedule awaits Steelers in 2008
• Mosley: Favre is QB turned ringmaster
• Clayton: 5 reasons Favre would start for Pack
• Graham: Patriots not dwelling on past
• Sando: Rams optimistic despite questions
• Williamson: Shanahan points to playoffs
• Walker: Bengals look to move past chaos
• Yasinskas: Delhomme, Peppers must step up
NFL blog network• NFL Nation blog
• AFC: North | South | East | West
• NFC: North | South | East | West
• Contact our bloggers
Camp Confidential training camp tourA breakdown of our annual camp tour:
• Wednesday, July 30: Chargers, Cowboys
• Thursday, July 31: Texans, 49ers
• Friday, Aug. 1: Patriots
• Saturday, Aug. 2: Bengals, Panthers
• Sunday, Aug. 3: Broncos
• Monday, Aug. 4: Rams
• Tuesday, Aug. 5: Steelers
• Wednesday, Aug. 6: Jets
• Thursday, Aug. 7: Raiders | Redskins
• Friday, Aug. 8: Falcons
• Saturday, Aug. 9: Jaguars
• Tuesday, Aug. 12: Eagles | Vikings
• Wednesday, Aug. 13: Bills
• Thursday, Aug. 14: Chiefs
• Friday, Aug. 15: Giants | Seahawks
• Saturday, Aug. 16: Bucs | Lions
• Sunday, Aug. 17: Browns
• Monday, Aug. 18: Titans
Video• NFL Insiders on Bills, Broncos, more
• Rachel Nichols on Favre, Jets
• NFL Live dissects ESPN.com power rankings
Audio• Podcast: Biggest questions
Scouts Inc.• Camp outlook: AFC Q&A on X's and O's
• Camp outlook: NFC Q&A on X's and O's
• Notable quarterback battles