Give the Washington Commanders credit for one thing: they admitted their relationship with William Jackson had run its course. On trade deadline day, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported the Commanders were expected to release Jackson if they couldn’t find a trade partner before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. EST deadline.
From that point, a trade felt like a long shot. Only in the rarest of circumstances do players get dealt after it’s been publicized that their current team is likely to release them. Why would a team offload draft compensation, no matter how little, for a player when they could simply claim said player off waivers?
It wouldn’t make sense.
Well, it appears the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t want to run the risk of losing Jackson to the waiver priority because they swooped in and saved Washington from the embarrassment of releasing its highest-paid non-quarterback.
Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Jackson has been dealt to the Steel City in a deal involving a swap of late-round future draft picks.
The Commanders have traded William Jackson III to the Steelers.
We’re not sure if Commanders fans have a favorite AFC team. If you didn’t, that squad should now be the Steelers. If Washington released Jackson, they would’ve carried a $9 million cap charge for next season. Thanks to the trade, the front office is off the hook for the Jackson’s $2.77 million remaining in guaranteed salary.
It’s still a loss of epic proportions given what the Commanders paid to secure Jackson’s signature in free agency two years ago ($40.5 million over three years, including $26 million guaranteed), but there was no sense in continuing to hold out hope that Jackson would eventually show improvement in their system. He showed glimpses during training camp, but it didn’t translate once the season started.
For Jackson, the Steelers are an excellent landing spot. Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coached Jackson in Cincinnati, and the Steelers were high on him during the 2016 pre-draft process. The only problem? The Bengals drafted him No. 24 overall; one slot before Pittsburgh drafted fellow corner Artie Burns.
All things considered, this is a great outcome for the Commanders. Had they released Jackson, they’d be on the books for dead cap hits of $13.4 million in 2022 and $9 million in 2023, with just $6.75 million in savings for next season. It’s a loss regardless, but this trade saved the front office from further embarrassment.
I suppose we have to give credit where it’s due for making the most of an impossible situation; albeit one they created in the first place.