ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons found their replacement for Michael Turner on Thursday by agreeing to terms with Steven Jackson, considered the top free-agent running back, on a three-year, $12 million deal.
The 29-year-old Jackson had 1,042 yards rushing and four touchdowns with the Rams last season. It was his eighth straight season with more than 1,000 yards rushing.
“I think this is a very big signing for us,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told The Associated Press. “It continues to bolster our offensive firepower. It gives us not only strength, power in running ability but also the versatility to catch out of the backfield, which is a very important part of this offense.”
Jackson would have earned $7 million with the Rams in 2013 before he opted out of his contract to become a free agent.
He tweeted his thanks to the Rams “for believing in me & allowing me to be an integral part of this team for so many years.”
Jackson’s 10,135 yards rushing for his career are the most of any active player. He set career highs with 1,528 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns with St. Louis in 2006.
Turner’s average of only 3.6 yards per carry last season set a career low. The Falcons released Turner, defensive end John Abraham and cornerback Dunta Robinson on March 1. He had 800 yards rushing, his low total in his five seasons in Atlanta.
“We’re hoping he has his best years ahead of him, there’s no question about that,” Dimitroff said. “We think he still has much fuel in the tank and I know that he believes that.”
Turner’s modest total of 19 catches last season set a career high. He had his first career touchdown catch.
The Falcons also have re-signed strong safety William Moore and right guard Garrett Reynolds.