William Jackson III
The Washington Football Team would have liked to sign Ronald Darby, and with good reason. Darby has an exceptional 2020 campaign and was incredibly disruptive at the catch point. But in the end, Darby went with the higher guarantees, and Washington was forced to pivot. They did so by signing William Jackson III to a comparable deal, giving him approximately $40.5 million over three years, with $26 million guaranteed.
Jackson, by all accounts, was one of the best cornerbacks on the free agent market, and some platforms had him ranked as the best overall. That’s not something to be taken lightly. Jackson didn’t always get his due playing for the Bengals, but aside from an injury-plagued 2019 season, he’s been consistently disruptive, amassing four interceptions and 41 deflections in four seasons.
Athletically, Jackson is almost just as exciting as Darby. He’s a bit bigger than Darby, standing at 6-foot-0, 196 pounds, and he has a 4.37 40-yard dash, as well as a broad jump that nears ten feet. Jackson is an excellent athlete, with good length to couple with that athleticism, but he’s also instinctive, competitive, and productive, and all this came on a Cincinnati team that never quite found consistency in his time there.
Imagining Jackson playing behind the Washington Football Team’s near-elite front four, it’s exciting to think about what he could do with more pressure help. Jackson is an excellent man coverage cornerback who also has the explosiveness and intangibles to produce in zone, and that versatility should give him a leg up in Ron Rivera’s scheme.
There is one fairly notable negative with Jackson, however. His age is not ideal, and he doesn’t perfect fit Washington’s contention window. Although he just completed his rookie contract, he’s already set to turn 29 years old in October this year. He’s two years older than Darby, despite having played two less seasons. By the end of his three-year deal with the Washington Football Team, he’ll already be 31 years old.
Traditionally, you have to watch out for the cornerback cliff after 30. It doesn’t always hit right away, but it’s one added question-mark with Jackson. For now, however, he’s still in his prime, and he appears to be a modest upgrade from Darby, who was already very good in 2020. His age bumps his grade down a bit, but as a player, Jackson is the playmaker Washington needs opposite Kendall Fuller, and he alleviates some pressure at cornerback.
William Jackson III grade: B +
Overall, these average out to a low “B” for the Washington Football Team so far this offseason. What do you think about what the Washington Football Team has done thus far? Feel free to voice your thoughts in the comments section below!