Commanders

William Jackson III on why he chose to sign with Washington

Commanders

Viewed by many as the top cornerback in free agency, William Jackson III had plenty of options when deciding his next team this past week.

Ultimately, after weighing each option with his agent -- who was negotiating his deal while on vacation, by the way -- the 28-year-old chose to sign with the Washington Football Team on a three-year, $42 million deal.

“I had a lot of teams. I can’t lie, I had a lot of teams. I just sat back with my agent. The Washington team was the best fit for me," Jackson said on Friday to local media. 

"It just made sense. This is where I wanted to come. I had a lot of teams lined up from one to two to three to four to five. Washington was in that number one rank, so that’s what we wanted to make happen."

When asked what specifically stood out about the opportunity to play for the Burgundy and Gold, the cornerback gave a handful of reasons why Washington was what he called "the best fit" for him.

In Washington, Jackson will play behind one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Naturally, the idea of getting to play alongside the likes of Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne was attractive to the cornerback when considering his choices.

“It’s just a blessing to have that front. We’ve got a lot of great guys up front," Jackson said. "The quarterback’s not going to be able to hold the ball. When we were making the decision it was very easy because of the front that we have. The defense is already very good. I’m just a piece to make it better."

 

It's not just the defensive talent that Jackson will be playing with that sold him about joining Washington, though.

The chance to play under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio -- a coach that has had several cornerbacks succeed in his defensive scheme -- played a major factor in Jackson's decision.

“He’s great. Every cornerback that has played under him has had successful years," Jackson said of his defensive coordinator. "He’s a coach that knows exactly what he’s doing. Every corner succeeds in his defense. I’m just here to succeed and make it better.”

Like Del Rio, Washington head coach Ron Rivera has had a handful of successful cornerbacks play under him. Josh Norman and James Bradberry are just two examples of corners that turned into some of the league's best under Rivera.

However, when asked about playing under the 59-year-old coach, Jackson went on to rave about Rivera's character more than anything.

“All I ever heard was he’s a great guy. I’m talking about everyone," Jackson said. "Players that haven’t played for him. A lot of corners, we talk in the league. They were just harping on how much of a great guy he is. I want to play for a guy like that. They’re just having a conversation with you and they’ve heard through the grapevine that he’s an amazing guy. It was a no-brainer for me."

In his five seasons with the Bengals, Jackson never sniffed the postseason. In fact, the cornerback has yet to be part of a team that's finished with a winning record. So, when hitting free agency for the first time, joining a franchise that has the chance to win was in the back of his mind.

Yes, Washington's recent history isn't much better than Cincinnati's -- if at all. But, the organization is coming off a division title and has made significant moves in free agency, ones that proved to the cornerback that he's joining a club eager to win.

"It’s an organization that wants to win. That’s all that showed me," Jackson said. "They want to win and they want to win now. I’ve seen all the moves they were making. There are great guys on this football team. I’m just happy to be a part of it and help everybody be better and win some games."