Things could have gone better for Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Jackson III during his first crack at free agency—after all, he wouldn’t be here now if it had. A former first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, he was happy to get out of town, but things, at least on the field, were even worse when he arrived in Washington.
He told reporters earlier in the week that it was “a mutual agreement” for himself and the Commanders to part ways, culminating in their trading him to the Steelers in exchange for late-round picks in the 2025 NFL Draft, which, if you weren’t paying attention, is two and a half years away.
Via the team’s website, he also told reporters that he had not had discussions with the team about what their plans were until after he learned he’d been traded. But there seems to have been some unspoken mutual understanding, as he said he “was expecting it to happen”.
Despite spending a year and a half there, it didn’t phase him to get whiffs of how much everyone wanted him gone and even how he might be released if the Commanders couldn’t find somebody to take him off their hands—even if does his best to avoid such chatter.
“I was actually with my family. It didn’t bother me at all”, he said. “I’m not one of them guys that watch the media. I’m not even on social media, so I’m not one of them guys to look into that. Whatever happen happens and I’m glad I’m here”.
Even with everything that had gone wrong on the field with the Commanders, head coach Ron Rivera admitting after the trade that they had misevaluated his skill set and essentially failed to put him in a position to succeed, he doesn’t look back on his time in Washington poorly.
“It was cool. I enjoyed my time there. I have nothing but love for the guys. Things just didn’t work out, but I have nothing but love for them”, he said. That’s in contrast to what he had to say about getting out of Cincinnati, however.
Cincinnati, they got some crude fans, man. Misery loves company”, he told a D.C. area radio station last offseason. “The Bengals, on the other hand, them dudes, they wonder why they’re not winning. I’m happy I’m out of that thing man. It’s a blessing to get away and I wish them the best, but Washington let’s go from here”.
Of course that’s before he played a down for the Commanders, who weren’t even called the Commanders at the time but rather went by the interim designation of Washington Football Team. They did play football and were around Washington, though, so at least there was that.
Now, however, he’s in Pittsburgh, the team he thought he would wind up playing for all along coming out of the draft. Will he be talking about how “it was cool” by March despite things not working out? Either way, there’s a major financial decision the Steelers will have to make about his future after this season.