2023 Stock Watch – CB William Jackson III – Sold

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.

Player: CB William Jackson III

Stock Value: Sold

Reasoning: In a deeply predictable move, the Steelers announced the release of cornerback William Jackson III yesterday. Acquired in-season via trade for what turned out to be no draft compensation, his release saves more than $10 million in cap space following a season in which he did not play a snap for them due to a back injury.

William Jackson III was due to earn a little bit over $12 million during the 2023 season from the Steelers after they inherited his contract via trade in the middle of the previous season. He proceeded to play zero snaps due to a back injury that landed him on the Reserve/Injured List.

They were also over the cap. The math was simple. Jackson was never going to play for the Steelers at that price tag. I don’t know if they are giving any consideration to bringing him back if they can re-sign him for a dramatically lesser amount, but those numbers were never going to work.

And so he’s now a street free agent, free to pursue any other opportunity that might come his way. One could argue that the Steelers misjudged this one considerably, even if it wasn’t at a great cost. They merely paid some of the remainder of his 2022 salary for the opportunity to see if it would work out.

As is known, Pittsburgh coveted him coming out of the draft, but they missed out on him by one selection, so it’s no surprise they took the opportunity to kick the tires when the chance arose. At the same time, he had already not been practicing or playing due to a back injury. They misjudged its significance.

So what comes next? Well, it’s not exactly much of a loss given that he never even played for them and nobody anticipated that he would be back. Again, as suggested, there may be a slim chance they attempt to re-sign him on a far cheaper deal, but otherwise both parties will be going their separate ways.

Jackson will have to find a team willing to play him in the manner that suits his skill sets and the Steelers will have to find another cornerback. They want to re-sign Cameron Sutton, but that won’t be enough. And we don’t know if Ahkello Witherspoon and his $4 million base salary is safe either.

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