The Washington Football Team reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with William Jackson III on Tuesday night and guaranteed the defender $26 million in doing so.
That led some to have this (understandable) reaction: Who exactly is William Jackson III and why is he getting so much money?
Those who closely monitor the sport recognize the corner's name, but even for a guy who was regarded as the best option at the position on the market this year, he's just not widely-known like a host of the other stars at his position. There are a few factors why.
To begin with, Jackson III went to school at Houston and then was drafted by Cincinnati in 2016, where he's played since. The Cougars aren't a traditional college powerhouse, while the Bengals are what's essentially an NFL power studio apartment — and that might be too kind to that franchise.
So, because of his past few stops, both before becoming a pro and since becoming one, the defensive back hasn't found himself in the national spotlight much. That hasn't been helpful for his individual brand.
Download and subscribe to the Washington Football Talk podcast
Secondly, the 28-year-old was never a part of a reputable defense in Cincy. Over the previous four campaigns, the best finish the overall unit experienced was 16th in points allowed and 18th in yards allowed. That wasn't due to his lack of contributions — PFF had him ranked as the 16th-best free agent coming into this week — but still, his own stellar play was never going to truly stand out amongst the mediocrity on his side of the ball.
Lastly, though Jackson III is touted as a No. 1-type cornerback, he hasn't shown up much in the interception department. In 59 career games, he's stepped in front of just three passes. That, of course, means he hasn't been at the center of many highlights that any non-Bengals supporter would notice.
Yet there's plenty of reason to believe that Jackson III will turn into a much more popular player once he joins the Burgundy and Gold.
Washington isn't the TV fixture it once was — a distinction they had for a long time even as their record was awful — but a division title and a first-place schedule in 2021 ought to alter that. Compared to Cincinnati, the nation's capital will represent an enormous step up in terms of exposure.
Furthermore, he's set to settle in on a much more dangerous defense. The line that he'll have the pleasure of sharing a huddle with is one of the sport's most feared, and the secondary he's going to be battling with includes talented DBs like Kendall Fuller and Kam Curl. That will make a big-time difference, too.
And, in turn, by sliding into Jack Del Rio's group and Ron Rivera's team, Jackson III should rack up more turnovers. The scheme those coaches deploy is quite corner-friendly, and as mentioned, Chase Young's bunch will be chasing signal-callers on a weekly basis. Hopefully, the newest member of Washington's defense can take advantage of those benefits.
In all, Jackson III feels like someone who's been under-appreciated. Should things in Washington go well, however, his stock will shoot up. You may not have much of a file on him now, but expect that file to expand rather quickly.