Former Steelers CB William Jackson III Now Healthy, Fueled By ‘All The People Who Had Something Negative To Say’


The Pittsburgh Steelers have let go a number of cornerbacks already this offseason. Just since the 2023 NFL Draft, for example, they released Ahkello Witherspoon and (at his request) Arthur Maulet. It might be easier to forget that some time before they already parted way with William Jackson III, the former first rounder.

Granted, Jackson would be easier to forget considering the fact that he never played a snap for the Steelers. Acquired via trade in-season on a deal that ended up not requiring them to return any draft compensation when conditions for doing so were not met, he was released just before the start of the new league year, having been scheduled to make an eight-figure salary in 2023.

But the eighth-year veteran isn’t packing it in. Still unsigned, he recently told KPRC’s Aaron Wilson that he is finally back healthy and has something to prove after being unable to take the field for the Steelers last season while navigating a back injury.

I’m feeling great, I’m just feeling really motivated”, he told Wilson. “All the doubters, I want to literally come out and show what I can do. I’m just using it as motivation, basically all the critics, all the people who had something negative to say. I’m just ready to come out this year and show them what I can do”.

Jackson had been a target for the Steelers coming out of Houston in 2016. Former defensive backs coach Carnell Lake revealed just months after the draft, behind closed doors, that he was the player they wanted to draft, instead ending up with Artie Burns when the Cincinnati Bengals snatched him from under their noses.

While he spent his rookie season that year on the Reserve/Injured List, Jackson had a productive five-year stint in Cincinnati before cashing in with the Washington Commanders in free agency. The only problem is that he was a poor scheme fit, a fact Commanders head coach Ron Rivera very much admitted after they traded him to the Steelers.

The veteran had already been dealing with a back injury at that point and had not practiced for weeks, but there was some speculation that it was at least partly an act because Washington was motivated to trade him and did not want him getting hurt.

Perhaps the Steelers bought into that when they acquired him, because they did put him on the practice field but it didn’t last long. It turned out that his back injury was real and he was moved to the Reserve/Injured List without ever playing a snap in the black and gold.

“I’m great”, Jackson said of his current health status. “A minor setback for a major comeback. Everybody goes through injuries, but it’s really great. I’m 100 percent, feeling back to speed. I’m just ready to show the world what I can do”.

He implied that he has had interest from some teams, but that he was taking things slow and waiting for the right opportunity. With OTAs having just gotten underway, there is really no rush for him to sign. Any teams that want him should know how they wants to use him, and they can acclimate him in training camp.

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