ATLANTA — The Falcons on Thursday released running back Steven Jackson, who in two seasons with the team couldn’t recapture his 1,000-yard form that made him one of the league’s top backs with St. Louis.
The release of Jackson, 31, was not a surprise. He led the team with 707 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2014 but averaged only 3.7 yards per carry. In 2013, his first season with the Falcons, he had 543 rushing yards in 12 games.
Jackson was a first-round pick by the Rams in 2004. He had a streak of eight straight seasons of more than 1,000 rushing yards, including career-high totals of 1,528 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2006. Jackson has had at least 20 catches in 10 straight seasons, including a career-best 90 receptions in 2006.
The Falcons, expected to have a defensive makeover under new coach Dan Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, also could have a new look on offense. Running backs Jacquizz Rogers and Antone Smith could be unrestricted free agents.
Devonta Freeman, who was second on the team with 248 rushing yards as a rookie last season, could be the team’s only returning running back.
The release of Jackson solidifies expectations the Falcons will look for help at running back through the draft or free agency. The team is expected to look for pass-rush help with the No. 8 pick, and running back is another priority.