The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Are the Steelers open to bringing back cornerback William Jackson III on a cheaper deal if healthy?
The Steelers gave up extremely little, in terms of draft capital, for the chance to see if former first-round cornerback William Jackson III could help them out. In fact, it turned out to be nothing but a portion of his remaining salary owed for 2022, but only because he never played.
Jackson practiced one or two days after coming over for the Steelers before landing on the Reserve/Injured List. They did start his clock at the end of the season, perhaps with the hope that he might be able to play in the event that they reached the playoffs. Perhaps that was an indication that he was nearing health.
But that meant little for 2023, considering he was scheduled to be owed over $12 million. In order for him to have had any chance of maintaining that allowance, he would have had to get on the field and proved that he was worth it, but we know that never happened.
That doesn’t mean the franchise might not still value him, however. If they could bring him back on a bargain deal, for example, might they not look to re-sign him and give it another try? I’m not even sure what a reasonable ballpark might be, but perhaps something in line with the deals given recently to Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon.
It’s not likely that Jackson will have a robust market given that he’s put out so little tape of quality for the past two years. By their own admission, the Commanders acknowledged that he didn’t fit into their defense, one of the reasons they were so willing to move him for cheap.
It was a salary dump, and they dumped it on the Steelers. Yet head coach Ron Rivera seemed to genuinely hope he might find a better fit in Pittsburgh. Perhaps he could if he should return. Schematically, it would make sense, and he’s been in the division most of his career.