The St. Louis Rams' bye week has been all about Steven Jackson trade rumors (which eventually came to nothing.) But their most interesting running back this week is a seventh-round pick who's definitely staying put. Daryl Richardson, after all—just one pick removed from being Mr. Irrelevant—is the reason the Rams are considering trading their all-time rushing leader.
While Jackson's recovered from a slow start to claw his way back to average in the Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, Richardson has been a revelation as a change-of-pace back; he's averaging 5.4 yards per carry through his first 62 attempts. Even as Jackson's gotten healthy Richardson has held tightly to 10 or 11 touches a game, and while the rumored trades all fell through, it's easy to imagine Richardson's role expanding as the season continues.
Steven Jackson will be with the Rams for the rest of the 2012 season, but after his 2013 contract was voided last month it became clear he was not a part of their future plans. At 3-5, the Rams are much improved from 2011, but they're not competing for a playoff spot. Jackson will play, and we'll cheer, because he's one of the Rams' all-time greats and he's deserved much better than the teams he's gotten. But Daryl Richardson is the one we'll be watching for next year.