Jackson III joins list of worst Washington signings after trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Albert Haynesworth remains at the top of the list when it comes to Washington's worst free-agent moves of all time, but with a trade that sent him to Pittsburgh going down on Tuesday, William Jackson III officially occupies a spot that is near Haynesworth's.
Thanks to the swap, Jackson's career with Washington ends after just 16 games across a season and a half. He's appeared in a mere four contests this campaign, as a back injury plus a demotion from the starting lineup has pushed him to the periphery.
Yet even when he was totally healthy and a full part of the secondary, Jackson failed to produce the way he was expected to when Ron Rivera and the front office inked him to a three-year contract with $26 million guaranteed in March of 2021.
In reviewing the pickup of the former Bengal, Rivera labeled Jackson a "dynamic football player" with the "ability to take over a side and shut a side down." Neither of those descriptions feel remotely close to appropriate in analyzing the defensive back's stint in the NFC East.
In all, Jackson only picked off two passes and was whistled for nine accepted penalties while employed by Rivera and coordinator Jack Del Rio. He also allowed the two highest completion percentages of his career when he was a member of the Football Team/Commanders and was in the mix on numerous coverage breakdowns.
Now, while Jackson was the one struggling on the field, the franchise's decision-makers deserve a hefty amount of blame for his failures, too.
As soon as Jackson's contract was announced, there was a question of just how cleanly he'd fit in Rivera and Del Rio's scheme. In Cincinnati, Jackson was at his best in man-to-man situations. His coaches at his next stop, meanwhile, were more zone-focused.
Rivera even admitted that upon first studying Jackson's tape, he initially viewed Jackson as "a pure man guy." However, Rivera claimed that with further watching, he saw enough out of Jackson to believe he could transition to his new squad's style.
Unfortunately, those instincts were wrong.
Jackson told reporters in October of his first go-round with the club that he was still in the middle of a "learning curve" and that there were "a lot of things" he wasn't "familiar with." That was after a full training camp and a handful of regular-season outings, mind you. He seemed to be on the verge of finding his rhythm in December, but then injuries interrupted that resurgence.
This past summer, the staff and Jackson insisted that Jackson truly was comfortable at corner after his disappointing debut effort. As evidenced by the fact that he's now a Steeler, that optimism clearly didn't mean much.
Yes, the Jackson signing was initially celebrated, but those who are most effective in free agency don't stop there. They figure out how to properly utilize their asset so that his performance from that point onward matches, if not exceeds, his past work.
Therefore, Rivera, Del Rio and whoever else was responsible for deploying Jackson in the manner that he was used should be seriously scrutinized as well. No one, really, is free of criticism in this situation — except his pet pig.
Ultimately, Jackson is no Haynesworth, whose expensive and exasperating tenure with Washington will be tough to surpass. There ideally will be no Haynesworth-like mistakes for the Commanders ever again.
But Jackson is right there with the likes of Adam Archuleta, Deion Sanders and Josh Norman, which is company that is rich in money but much less so in terms of achievements.