Packers-Steven Jackson was a longshot

Many of you wanted the Green Bay Packers to sign free agent running back Steven Jackson. I wasn't opposed to it. In the end, however, do we really know how the Packers felt about it?

The Packers without question spoke to Jackson's agent, but as we all know, rare is the occasion when general manager Ted Thompson steps out early in free agency to sign a player. In the end, Jackson agreed to terms with the team most consistently connected to him during this process: The Atlanta Falcons.

The Packers could absolutely use a running back of Jackson's size, style and power. On the flip side, he is nearing the danger zone of running back careers: He will turn 30 in July and has 2,802 touches (carries plus receptions) in his nine-year career. It might be disappointing for Packers fans to see a Pro Bowl player sign elsewhere, but I think the Packers were in a defensible position to let it happen. Investing in aging running backs is a risk that has set back many NFL teams.

So what will the Packers do at the position? ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Packers would host veteran Peyton Hillis this week, but it would be difficult to envision Hillis as a feature back. The draft might hold more amenable options for Thompson. To that end, here are the top five running backs available, according to ESPN's Mel KiperInsider:

  1. Alabama's Eddie Lacy

  2. Wisconsin's Montee Ball

  3. UCLA's Johnathan Franklin

  4. North Carolina's Giovani Bernard

  5. Florida's Mike Gillislee