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Steven Jackson headed for NFL free agency

In a much anticipated move, St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson will test the free-agent market for the first time in his nine-year NFL career.

Citing league sources, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday night that Jackson will void the final year of his contract on March 12.'s Ian Rapoport reported last week that the Rams had agreed to let Jackson void the last year on his current deal.

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The move, as Thomas points out, saves the Rams the potential public-relations backlash of cutting one of their most popular players. The Rams still might sign Jackson as a free agent after March 12, but his current $7 million contract was too high for a team in transition.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said last week that he wanted Jackson to finish his career in St. Louis.

The former Oregon State star has rushed for 10,135 yards since his NFL debut in 2004 -- all of them with the Rams.

Jackson, who turns 30 in July, still has a place in the NFL. Last season, he rushed 257 times for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns, his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.

The Atlanta Falcons, who might part ways with Michael Turner, are an obvious suitor. Other Super Bowl contenders with running back needs, such as the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants or Denver Broncos, also might be linked to the sturdy veteran.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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