The New England Patriots made a positive move with their signing of running back Steven Jackson to a veteran's minimum deal for the rest of the 2015 season. It was clear that the Patriots were playing with limited depth at position and Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick needed to make a move.
But Jackson hasn't played this whole season. Why him? The 32-year-old Jackson has 2,743 carries and 460 receptions. In comparison, the 29-year-old LeGarrette Blount has just 773 carries and 35 receptions.
How does he help the Patriots?
Jackson can run, catch, and block
Jackson caught 20 passes last season for the Falcons in addition to rushing for 707 yards, and was a fantastic at blitz-pickup. Similar to the DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, WR Leonard Hankserson, and OT LaAdrian Waddle additions, there aren't many experienced, veteran free agents that are on the market. Jackson won't be a workhorse, but he's versatile and fresh and can help out for ten carries per game.
Patriots newest running back based on how many carries he receives. Probably should stick around 10 carries. pic.twitter.com/SlIRg4PQ0h— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 21, 2015
Brandon Bolden needs to play special teams
The Patriots running back led the position in offensive snaps against the Titans, but played zero snaps on special teams. That's a huge drop off for the team's 4th leading special teams player (behind Nate Ebner, Matthew Slater, and Jonathan Freeny). Even if Jackson is just a 1-for-1 with Bolden, the Patriots needed more depth at the position, and the addition of Jackson strengthens the team's suddenly flat special teams department.
And for those decrying the usage of Bolden, he converted three second- or third-and-1 plays (one called back due to a holding call). He had that one bad negative carry on 3rd-and-2. His other 7 carries came on 1st-and-10. Look for Jackson to absorb the bulk of these carries.
Joey Iosefa can be a versatile asset for the power running game
The young running back proved to be a fun addition to the backfield, serving as a partial fullback, partial running back. Iosefa (roughly 240 lbs) and Jackson (roughly 230 lbs) will make the Patriots power running game all-the-more successful. Tom Brady could hand off to either back. Both Iosefa and Jackson could flex out as a bigger receiver. Heck, the Patriots could even throw James White on the field as an extra wrinkle.
Jackson ultimately will serve as much added depth and will allow players to move back to their ideal roles.