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Free Agency

Steelers Will Not Keep CB William Jackson III

On November 1st, 2022, the Steelers traded a conditional 2025 6th-round pick to the Washington Commanders for a conditional 2025 7th-round pick and CB William Jackson III.

William Jackson was a popular name for the Steelers dating back to the 2016 NFL Draft. WJ3 ultimately went to the AFC North rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, at pick 24, right before the Steelers picked at 25. Steelers took Artie Burns as the next pick and suffered for it.

Steelers defensive back coach at the time, Carnell Lake, admitted that the team was targeting William Jackson at pick 25. It took the team 6 seasons until they could get him in the door.

William Jackson was excited to become a Steeler. Still, he only saw one practice before a previous back injury he suffered during his time with the Washington Commanders landed him on IR, and he never played a game for the black and gold.

The Steelers salvaged the 2025 6th-round pick because of this, and they lost $3.1M for taking on WJ3’s contract for the rest of 2022.

Steelers now have the option to save $12.2M if they elect to cut WJ3. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that’s their intention.

This is what Dulac had to say when asked if the team plans to retain all their cornerbacks.

“Some will be gone, like Jackson. They will not keep him, nor did they intend to.”
– Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This is similar to the other in-season trades the Steelers have done in the past seasons.

2019 was Nick Vannett. 2020 was Avery Williamson. 2021 was Joe Schobert and Ahkello Witherspoon. The only name to resign with the team was Witherspoon, and he might be an offseason cap cut.

The point is trading mid-round picks for these guys and never signing them back is a common trend and a reason why the Steelers continue to suffer from depth issues. Thankfully with William Jackson never playing, they kept their pick this time.

I’m not saying letting William Jackson go is a bad move. Bringing him back would leave cornerback on the back burner for Pittsburgh, and his cap hit was never worth exercising.

Bringing back William Jackson never made sense. William Jackson’s time in Pittsburgh will be a forgotten one and a true #1 corner is a pressing need that could be addressed early in the offseason.

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