- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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Recently we used Bill Polian's comprehensive free-agent ratings to discuss the (unlikely) match between the Green Bay Packers and free-agent running back Reggie Bush. But as long as we're at the height of silly season, we might as well acknowledge a better fit for the Packers and for Bush.
If you're the Packers, a team stocked with playmakers but short on physical grinders, you wonder if Steven Jackson isn't a better fit than Bush. And if you're Bush, could you imagine joining the Detroit Lions for a role once envisioned for Jahvid Best?
Let's start (again) with Bush, who was deemed "a perfect fit" for the Lions on Monday by Sports Illustrated's Peter King. Indeed, the Lions drafted Best in 2010 in large part to be a backfield playmaker in their passing game, one who would further stretch defenses and clean up on the yards available either in the flat or on draws when defenses over-commit to receiver Calvin Johnson.
Best had some success in that role but was miscast as an every-down back before concussions threatened his career. Mikel Leshoure now holds down the Lions' traditional running back role, and pairing him with Bush -- who has had three seasons of at least 50 receptions in his career -- would make some sense.
Again, we're just matching skills with scheme at this point. Interest from either side is unknown. The Lions have limited salary-cap space, and it's debatable whether they want to commit any of it to a running back who has been through seven NFL seasons' worth of contact. But given general manager Martin Mayhew's assertion last week that he will participate in free agency, we should at least consider all possibilities.
That's also the best reason for connecting Jackson with the Packers, whose offense was embracing veteran Cedric Benson in 2012 before his season-ending foot injury. I think we can all agree Jackson is a more dynamic player, even as he approaches his 30th birthday this summer, and Polian considers him one of the true gems of the free-agent class.
Polian: "If the price is right, a contender could get him for two to three years and feel pretty good about it. I think he could be a Corey Dillon-like find but without the baggage."
Dillon, of course, was a workhorse running back for seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before moving to the New England Patriots in 2004 at age 30. He rushed for 1,635 yards that season and scored 35 touchdowns in three seasons with the Patriots to end his career.
Like Dillon, Jackson would add a different dimension to a passing offense: A running back who can create yards and first downs with sheer force. It's worth a discussion -- or at least a blog post.