Like many of my free agent/draft/trade scenarios – this will never happen. The team obviously likes Ryan Grant as the starter and Mike McCarthy recently went on and on about Brandon Jackson eventually saying he believes Jackson could easily be THE featured back. If anyone is wondering why Brandon Jackson has not lost his spot as the #2 RB, it’s not just because there haven’t been many good players brought in to compete with him (besides Tyrell Sutton), but it’s also because the head coach is squarely in his corner. I don’t think Brandon Jackson is bad, I’m not saying that. But I am saying that neither he nor Grant are as good as our coaching staff/GM seem to believe they are and that our RB group should be improved.
I tend to agree with those who say Ryan Grant is a very solid back, but that he’s not special. He plays hard, he has a great attitude and many people are actually just off when it comes to assessing his productivity – he has top 10 RB stats as a starter. But he’s not special and we could use the contributions of a special player at RB. That’s why I wrote earlier about Marshawn Lynch (whom I still believe has the potential at least to be special) and now about Steve Slaton. Both of these guys can make plays that Ryan Grant simply can’t make.
A couple years ago, I wrote a post encouraging the Packers to look at Slaton in the draft because he had slipped significantly in all the pre-draft hype for no reason whatsoever. A year after I wrote that post and a year after Slaton went crazy his rookie year, Brother Steve temporarily backed off of his comments re my crack use by writing a rare post acknowledging my Slaton-will-be-good call. The guy was fantastic with all of his dynamic skills on display: juking, running, catching, scoring TDs. He was special.
Last year, however, he wasn’t as good. He had some fumbling issues and then a major neck injury. His yards-per-carry stat also was down significantly from 2008. One factor few seem to acknowledge though about the 2009 Texans is that they became a pass-happy team and consequently the O-Line’s focus shifted to pass-blocking – not so much run-blocking. And, after just a couple fumbles, Slaton was thrown in Gary Kubiak’s doghouse – reducing his per-game touches and his overall chances to contribute.
Steve Slaton would be a great fit with the Packers right now. His neck is fine, several accounts I’ve read recently have indicated that he’s been looking like his old self this summer, he has a unique talent for scoring TDs and he is no longer THE guy in Houston. (He has been relegated to 3rd down duty – Arian Foster is their starter now…Slaton’s price tag may not actually be THAT high.) But one other reason I would want him on the team is that he could pose a threat to Ryan Grant. Ryan Grant did have a period of time a couple years ago when he actually was special. When he first started back in the middle of 2007. His stats were out of control (when projected for the whole year, he would have been the #2 back in the NFL). Remember how hard he ran and how many long runs he broke off? He was playing for something – for a job. Since then, he got a huge raise and he hasn’t been challenged for his starting spot. I can’t help but wonder if this has given him less incentive to reach that higher level of play that he may still be capable of achieving. Steve Slaton, if he plays like himself, could not only challenge Grant for the starting job (perhaps pushing Grant to play better in the process), but he could also be a tremendous back-up/3rd down back to have if Grant remains the starter.
Having the RB duo of Ryan Grant and Steve Slaton would be quite nice and I’d say it’s at least worth it to look into what it might take to acquire Slaton.