- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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When reports recently surfaced that St. Louis Rams tailback and former Pro Bowler Steven Jackson will void his contract and become a free agent, the New England Patriots were one of the first teams mentioned as a possible landing spot.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to add talented veterans at their lowest value. Sometimes it works well (Randy Moss, Corey Dillon), while other times it doesn’t (Chad Johnson, Albert Haynesworth).
Jackson, 29, seems like a Patriot type of pickup. He’s suffered through injuries and is on the downside of his career. But Jackson still has something left in the tank when healthy and can contribute for a contender.
But this is one value find the Patriots should avoid. New England has good depth at tailback with starter Stevan Ridley and backup Shane Vereen. Ridley rushed for a career-high 1,263 yards in his second season, and should only get better. Signing a former Pro Bowler like Jackson would stunt Ridley’s growth and reduce his career. The same goes for Vereen.
The Patriots will be big players in free agency, especially after quarterback Tom Brady offered the team cap relief this week. But the Patriots do not need a third running back. New England should better spend its money boosting weak positions like cornerback, safety and wide receiver.