With the New England Patriots battered at running back, they made a low-key signing Monday morning that could pay huge dividends in the playoffs.
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the Patriots signed 32-year-0ld running back Steven Jackson to a one-year deal to bolster their depth at the weakened position.
The one alarming aspect of the signing: Jackson hasn’t played since December 2014.
Jackson last played with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. He struggled last season, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, and he hasn’t topped over four yards per carry since the 2012 season. However, in 2014, Jackson did run for over 700 yards and added six touchdowns. With Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount both out for the year, no other Patriots running back is averaging over 3.6 yards per carry, so Jackson may represent a minor upgrade there.
During his prime, Jackson was one of the NFL’s best running backs, topping 1,000 rushing yards eight times.
Last week, the Patriots also signed Montee Ball to their practice squad. Ball, just 25 years old, had a productive first season with the Broncos in 2013, but was eventually cut when he struggled.
It’s unclear how much Jackson will play, if at all, and whether he’ll be effective. The Patriots have a way of turning unlikely players into key cogs, but given Jackson’s lack of action over the past year, this signing does seem a bit desperate.
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