Steven Jackson

This isn’t the first time St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has been connected to the Green Bay Packers.

There were rumors that the Packers might try to trade for Jackson as recently as October, which was actually the second time the Packers were linked to the eight-time 1,000-yard rusher.

With Jackson expected to void the final year of his contract to become a free agent, the Packers are again being mentioned. ESPN’s John Clayton suggested the Packers and Jackson would be a perfect fit.

“I think that would be a great idea. Jackson isn’t going to make $7 million this year. Jackson has until the start of free agency to void the last year of his Rams contract. Although the Rams want him back, I think he will hit the market. If that is the case, Thompson could offer $5 million and see whether that could lure Jackson to Green Bay. He would be perfect for that offense.”

The move makes sense for one reason — the Packers have some uncertainty at running back. Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant are both free agents. James Starks and Alex Green ended the season as afterthoughts and the Packers only have a small sampling of what DuJuan Harris can do.

Harris looked like he could be the lead back the Packers need down the stretch in 2012, but there’s no guarantee his 5-7 frame can hold up for a full season.

So what’s the problem?

Money. The Packers don’t have much.

They’re currently just $7.1 million under the salary cap. Around $5 million of that will go to signing their draft class. That means the Packers would have to ax someone like Charles Woodson and his $10 million salary or Jermichael Finley and his $8 million salary to accommodate such a signing. They could also renegotiate a bunch of deals.

If there’s another problem, it’s that Jackson will be 30 this summer. Grant and Benson are the same age. The Packers wanted nothing to do with Grant when he became a free agent last year and gave Benson a pretty miniscule one-year deal when they signed him.

They obviously don’t like backs of a certain age. And if they’re going to sign a back, why not save $4 million a season and just re-sign Benson? He was effective when healthy and is the same type of back Jackson is — one who can move the pile.

We know the Packers like Jackson, but at what price?

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