William Jackson III

NFL Workouts: Giants, Bears, Titans, Grant

With NFL rookie minicamps coming to a close, we can take a look at some of the notable names that were invited for veteran tryouts during the rookies’ introduction to the NFL. The Giants were one of the teams with multiple veteran free agents in attendance, as noted by Pat Leonard of NY Daily News.

Two outside linebackers were auditioned this week in New York. Myjai Sanders worked out with the team after playing sparingly in seven games for the Texans last year. A former third-round pick for the Cardinals, Sanders had three sacks as a rookie but, after falling down the depth chart, found himself being auctioned off as a trade candidate before ultimately getting waived.

The other was Shaka Toney, a former seventh-round pick for the Commanders who was waived just before the draft. He’s only played major snaps in one game over his two years, his lone start out of 26 games played, but totes 1.5 sacks on his record.

The third veteran in attendance was wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.

Here are a few other notable minicamp auditions that took place around the league:

  • The Bears also hosted three veterans, even eventually signing tight end Tommy Sweeney. Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic reports that cornerback Parry Nickerson and wide receiver Freddie Swain were the other two veterans in attendance this week. Nickerson entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 for the Jets. Since then, he’s bounced around with one season each at in Jacksonville, Green Bay, Minnesota, and, most recently, Miami. Swain had a decent start to his career after two seasons in Seattle but didn’t play in 2023 after appearing in only four games in 2022 between time in Miami and Denver.
  • The Titans were another team to host multiple notable veteran names, namely cornerback William Jackson III and pass rusher Shane Ray, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 and Turron Davenport of ESPN. After playing out a rookie contract in Cincinnati, Jackson earned a three-year, $40.5MM contract with the Commanders but requested a trade that landed him with the Steelers a year in a half into the deal, though he never got to play for them. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 5 of 2022. Ray’s absence from the NFL has been even longer. A first-round pick for the Broncos in 2015, Ray hasn’t played in the league since 2018. He joined the Bills last offseason, reuniting with his former Denver teammate Von Miller, but he was cut before the regular season.
  • After attending the Eagles’ rookie minicamp, wide receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant also worked out for the Saints at their rookie minicamp, per Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.Football. Grant hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since the 2021 season as he’s rehabilitated a torn Achilles and a ruptured patella tendon, but the last time he played, he earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
  • Lastly, the Dolphins hosted pass rusher Aaron Lynch for a tryout, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Lynch showed promise after tallying 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the 49ers but never managed more than three in a season over the next five years. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2020.

NFL Workouts: Jackson, Austin, Jones, Smith

Veteran cornerback William Jackson continues his NFL tour in an attempt to return to the league this season. Since getting cut by the Steelers at the start of the offseason, Jackson has already auditioned for three teams without a signing. He will hope to break that trend after working out with the Buccaneers today, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2.

Jackson met with the cornerback-needy Ravens and the Giants in the offseason but left both Baltimore and New York without a contract. A week ago, Jackson made his way to Philadelphia in an attempt to help the Eagles replace the production of an injured Avonte Maddox, but he remains a free agent to this day.

His most recent trip to Tampa Bay is now an attempt to help provide the Buccaneers with some depth at the cornerback position as starter Carlton Davis continues to deal with a toe injury. Davis has only missed the last two games, but with his reputation for not ever playing a full season, it’s smart for Tampa Bay to be a bit cautious.

Here are a few other workouts reported from around the league:

  • The Seahawks haven’t reported any injuries to their receiving corps, despite D.K. Metcalf spending most of last week on the sidelines during practices, yet they hosted veteran wide receiver Tavon Austin yesterday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Austin hasn’t played in the NFL since his 2021 stint with the Jaguars. He spent part of 2022 in Buffalo but was released before seeing the field. He worked out for Baltimore a couple weeks after being let go but has been a free agent ever since.
  • Yates also reports that running back Ronald Jones was hosted by the Colts yesterday. The former second-round pick has struggled to find his place in the NFL since playing out his rookie contract in Tampa Bay. He signed his first free agent contract with the Chiefs, but after finding himself buried on the depth chart behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon, and Isiah Pacheco, Jones stated he wanted a release. He would finish the season with Kansas City, only appearing in six games but earning a Super Bowl ring. He signed in the offseason with the Cowboys but was released just over a week ago. Indianapolis may be willing to bring Jones in as reports continue to suggest that running back Jonathan Taylor doesn’t want to stay with the team upon his return from the physically unable to perform list.
  • The Broncos are finally getting wide receiver Jerry Jeudy going this season, but the team still decided to kick the tires on newly available free agent Tre’Quan Smith, according to Mike Klis of 9NEWS. Smith was recently released by his team of the last five years in New Orleans. Smith has yet to make his 2023 debut after starting the season on injured reserve, and with the emergence of young stars like Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed and the return of Michael Thomas, it was hard to envision where Smith would fit into the offense moving forward. Smith was soon going to be able to return from IR, so there’s a chance he can make an immediate return if he signs a new contract soon.

Eagles To Host CB William Jackson

In need of depth in the secondary, the Eagles are turning their attention to a veteran corner still on the open market. William Jackson is headed to Philadelphia for a free agent visit, per Jordan Schultz of the Score.

Veteran slot man Avonte Maddox is set to undergo surgery on a torn pectoral muscle, a procedure which may very well sideline him for the rest of the season. It thus comes as no surprise the Eagles are now in the market for an addition at the cornerback spot, though Jackson has seen far more time on the perimeter than the inside over the course of his career.

The former first-rounder had a forgettable 2022 campaign, seeing time in only four games with the Commanders before being dealt to the Steelers. While battling a back injury, he failed to see any game time in Pittsburgh, and the team made the easy decision to release him in the offseason. As was reported in May, and as Schultz confirms, however, Jackson is now fully healthy.

The Ravens and Giants hosted Jackson in August, confirming reports that interest was picking up late in the offseason. His visit to those teams signaled a deal could be on the horizon, but he remains unsigned well into the start of the regular season. The 30-year-old does have 64 starts to his name, though, and he could provide at least quality depth at the CB spot for the Eagles as they look to sort out their plans at the position moving forward.

James Bradberry saw time in the slot during training camp, and a Jackson addition could move him there on a full-time basis. The Eagles could shift to a CB alignment including Bradberry on the inside, with Darius Slay and former UDFA Josh Jobe on the perimeter, allowing Jackson to serve as a backup. The latter will surely see a low-cost deal when he ultimately signs with the Eagles or another interested team. Philadelphia should be able to comfortably afford him in such a scenario, though, as the team currently has just under $6MM in cap space.

Giants Work Out William Jackson; Latest On Team’s CB Plans

Using two rookie starters at cornerback has surfaced as a potential Giants strategy, with sixth-rounder Tre Hawkins impressing during his first NFL training camp. But the team is still on the hunt for help at the position.

William Jackson is on the Giants’ radar, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, who adds a workout is scheduled (Twitter link). Teams are checking in on the former first-round pick. Jackson, 30, met with the Ravens earlier this month. The workout occurred Tuesday, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes.

After Don Martindale‘s former team took a look at the ex-Bengals starter, the second-year Giants DC will determine a fit. Jackson worked as an NFC East starter in 2021, but a disastrous 2022 tanked his value. The Commanders benched Jackson early and then traded him to the Steelers — for a low-end return that ended up not conveying — at the deadline. With Ronald Darby signing for just $1.7MM, it would surprise if Jackson were able to secure more than the veteran minimum given his most recent season.

Washington inked Jackson to a three-year, $40.5MM deal in 2021. A 48-game starter with the Bengals, Jackson loomed as one of the top free agents on a 2021 market impacted by the COVID-19-induced salary cap reduction. The veteran still cashed in, but the tide turned for him early in 2022. Commanders DC Jack Del Rio benched Jackson in Week 5, leading to the trade to Pittsburgh. A back injury, however, kept him from suiting up for the Steelers. Although they designated Jackson for return ahead of a potential Week 18 win-and-in game, Jackson was never activated. He received his walking papers in March.

Hawkins is not a lock to start for the Giants, but first-rounder Deonte Banks is. Banks is set to join Adoree’ Jackson in the Giants’ lineup. The Giants have experimented with Jackson in the slot during camp, a configuration that would allow Martindale to use Banks and Hawkins on the outside. The team has two slot options — in Darnay Holmes and 2022 third-rounder Cor’Dale Flott — as well, but the Dunleavy adds the Giants going with a Banks-Hawkins-Jackson trio to start the season remains in play. This would be an interesting ask of Jackson, a career-long boundary corner, and shine a spotlight on Hawkins.

Additionally, Aaron Robinson, a Week 1 starter last season, remains on the team’s active/PUP list due to the knee injury he sustained early in the year. Robinson remaining on the PUP list after the Giants finalize their roster on August 29 would mean a mandatory four absences to start the season. Considering Robinson has not practiced yet, that scenario seems likely.

Ravens Host CB William Jackson III

John Harbaugh hinted yesterday that the Ravens could be seeking some reinforcement at cornerback, and the team will take a look at a veteran defensive back to potentially fill that void. According to Josina Anderson (on Twitter), William Jackson III is visiting with the Ravens today.

[RELATED: Ravens Eyeing Cornerback Help]

It wasn’t long ago that Jackson inked a three-year, $40.5MM deal with Washington. The cornerback was limited to only 12 games during his first season with the organization thanks to a calf injury, and his 2022 campaign saw him disappoint in four games before getting benched. Jackson asked for a trade and eventually got his wish, with Washington sending the cornerback to Pittsburgh. However, he spent much of his time with the Steelers on injured reserve, and he didn’t get into a game before earning his walking papers.

We heard earlier this offseason that the cornerback was back to full health and was mulling opportunities from multiple teams. Of course, Jackson will now have to settle for a prove-it deal at this point of his career, but there’s still plenty of intrigue. Sure, the 30-year-old would have graded as one of the worst cornerbacks in the league had he played enough snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. However, the site was much more bullish on his production during his time with the Bengals, including a rookie season where he ranked fourth at the position.

The Ravens’ current issues at cornerback could be temporary considering the team’s injuries. Rock Ya-Sin, Jalyn Armour-Davis, and Arthur Maulet are currently sidelined, and Pepe Williams has also been limited during training camp. Despite the injuries, Harbaugh seemed to hint that the organization was eyeing more than a healthy body, meaning a potential cornerback acquisition would have a legitimate shot at making the roster.

Latest On CB William Jackson

Deep into the post-draft wave of free agency, many veterans still on the market are facing a shrinking number of suitors as they look for their best fit ahead of training camp. Cornerback William Jackson falls into that category, but his wait to land a new opportunity may not last much longer.

Jackson is at full health in anticipation of summer offseason programs, as noted (on Twitter) by Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. Wilson adds that Jackson has received interest from “multiple teams,” and that he is evaluating his options with the aim of finding the right fit to continue his career. The 30-year-old played in four games with the Commanders last season.

Jackson finished the season in Pittsburgh, though, after they traded for him at the deadline. That move came after his tenure in Washington ended in unspectacular fashion, especially given the lucrative deal (three-years, $40.5MM) he had been playing on. The Steelers’ willingness to trade for him prevented a release, but Jackson never ended up seeing any game time in Pittsburgh due to an injury.

Facing the possibility of saving $12.75MM in cap space, the Steelers made the expected move of releasing the former first-rounder in March. Cornerback was a position of need for Pittsburgh this offseason, but their lack of interest in signing Jackson to a prove-it type deal makes it little surprise that he still finds himself on the open market. At full health, though, he could prove to be an effective pickup this late into the roster-building part of the calendar.

Jackson has started 64 of 74 career games, and he recorded a career-best 45 tackles along with 11 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions in 2020, his fourth and final season with the Bengals. A first-team role likely wouldn’t await him on a new team given the recent deals dished out by CB-needy teams to the likes of Rock Ya-Sin and Shaquill Griffin. Jackson may have to compete with fellow veteran Marcus Peters to be the next notable corner to sign a contract, but the lack of other available options could help his market value as he looks to get his career back on track in a new setting.

Steelers To Cut CB William Jackson

The Steelers’ trade for William Jackson did not end up leading to any playing time. Unsurprisingly, the team is moving on. The Steelers are releasing Jackson, per The Score’s Jordan Schultz (on Twitter).

Jackson has gone from signing an eight-figure-per-year contract to being jettisoned by two teams over the past few months. Washington sent the veteran cornerback to Pittsburgh for a low-end return at the deadline. An injury kept Jackson off the field, and he will head back to free agency two years after hitting the market as one of the top players available.

This transaction will result in the Steelers saving $12.2MM, making it one of the more obvious cost-saving moves during this year’s cut wave. Jackson was attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal, but the Commanders began to backtrack early last season. While Jackson fared well with the Bengals, the 30-year-old cover man’s career is at a crossroads.

Washington remains responsible for $9MM of Jackson’s 2023 money, and the Washington Post’s Sam Fortier notes the conditions of the trade not being met will not give the NFC East team the right to swap picks with Pittsburgh in the 2025 seventh round (Twitter link). The Commanders ended up saving $2.77MM — the remainder of Jackson’s 2022 base salary — but this will go down as a significant free agency miss for the team.

Cornerback has long been considered a position of need for the Steelers heading into free agency, regardless of if they are able to retain Cameron Sutton. The 28-year-old figures to have plenty of suitors on the open market, after he notched three interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 2022, both career-highs. Jackson will not play into Pittsburgh’s plans if Sutton departs.

Jackson has more than $46MM in career earnings to date, but a more modest contract than the past two he has played on surely awaits him in the near future. Sutton, along with the likes of James Bradberry and recent cuts such as Shaquill Griffin and Ronald Darby, headline the options in the 2023 free agency class. Jackson will slot in behind those names, but his previous success could land him a deal allowing him to rebuild at least some of his value.

Steelers Designate CB William Jackson For Return

The Steelers’ trade for William Jackson has not led to any game action. Ahead of a possible win-and-in game in Week 18, however, that could change.

Jackson received a return designation Wednesday. The veteran cornerback is back at practice. The Steelers acquired Jackson just before the trade deadline, but a back injury lingered for the former Bengals and Commanders defender. This move comes a week after the Steelers designated cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon for return. Both players can be activated by Saturday’s deadline.

While the Steelers have three weeks to activate Jackson, they may be down to their final game. FiveThirtyEight gives Pittsburgh a 21% chance to make the playoffs. The Steelers (8-8) need to beat the Browns and see both the Patriots and Dolphins lose. It would be a borderline-historic achievement if the Steelers rallied back from 2-6 to the postseason, considering only two teams — the 1970 Bengals and 2020 Washington Football Team — have come back from that record to qualify.

This represents a lost season for Jackson, whom the Commanders benched in September. Jackson was not part of that 2020 Washington iteration, having signed with the team in March 2021. Washington gave the former Cincinnati first-rounder a three-year, $40.5MM deal but was quickly dissatisfied with his performance this season. The Steelers acquired Jackson for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2025, acquiring a conditional seventh-rounder in that draft in the deal as well.

Jackson, 30, has made 64 career starts and fared well enough with the Bengals to command those contractual terms. That contract led to Jackson’s low trade value, but Pittsburgh adjusted the deal upon acquiring the seventh-year vet. Jackson is attached to a $5MM base salary this season and a nonguaranteed $9.25MM base in 2023.

Given how this season went, it would be a bit of a surprise if Jackson played on that deal next year. The Steelers can save $12.75MM by releasing Jackson once such moves are allowed come February. Then again, the Steelers do not have much invested at corner. Both Witherspoon and Levi Wallace are attached to low-cost contracts; Cameron Sutton is due for free agency. The team also received a tremendous return from Joe Haden, having signed the former first-rounder quickly after the Browns cut him back in 2017.

Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick Out With Appendicitis; OLB T.J. Watt Activated

6:00pm: After undergoing an appendectomy to deal with the appendicitis Fitzpatrick suffered through in walkthroughs today, the two-time All-Pro safety is expected to miss multiple weeks in recovery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Steelers will want Fitzpatrick back on the field as soon as possible, but typically, appendectomies have resulted in missing more than one week. Schefter points at the most recent major player to undergo the procedure as an example. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow underwent the surgery just before training camp and missed two-and-a-half weeks.

A similar-length absence would see Fitzpatrick miss tomorrow’s game and next weekend’s matchup vs the Bengals. An extra day means that he could return in time for the team’s Monday night game in Indianapolis the week after, but that’s an extremely optimistic timeline.

Behind Norwood, whom we mentioned below as the likely replacement, Pittsburgh recently returned Damontae Kazee from IR. They’ll also have Miles Killebrew and the practice squad elevation, Riley.

2:09pm: The Steelers have been looking forward to the return of star pass rusher T.J. Watt from injured reserve this week but are now expected to be without safety Minkah Fitzpatrick who is reportedly dealing with appendicitis, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The team has also officially activated Watt from IR and placed cornerback William Jackson III on IR.

Fitzpatrick is set to miss his first game of the season and just the second game of his career. Despite the team’s struggles this year, Fitzpatrick has maintained a high level of play. He has been all over the defensive backfield this year racking up six passes defensed along with three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Being only halfway through the season, Fitzpatrick is on track for career highs in both numbers, assuming he can make a quick return from his appendicitis.

In the lone game Fitzpatrick has missed before this, which occurred last season, the Steelers started then-rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood in his place. Norwood had already made two starts at the time, being one of the first defensive backs off the bench in packages that called for five or six defensive backs, but that was his first game playing 100% of the team’s defensive snaps and playing specifically in Fitzpatrick’s role. The Steelers’ pass defense struggled that day in a loss to the Chargers in which quarterback Justin Herbert passed for nearly 400 yards. It’s hard to blame the loss on Norwood’s stand-in performance, but considering the Steelers finished 2021 as a top-10 passing defense, one can infer some importance concerning Fitzpatrick’s absence. This year, Norwood started in place of an injured Terrell Edmunds in a Week 5 matchup against the Bills. Again, correlation does not exactly equal causation, but the team’s pass defense once again struggled as quarterback Josh Allen passed for 424 yards and four touchdowns on only 20 completions.

The return of Watt should be heralded in the Steel City as a giant addition to the defense. Outside of outside linebacker Alex Highsmith and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, the Steelers have struggled to produce an effective pass rush. Pittsburgh will gladly welcome pack their star defender who produced 22.5 sacks in only 15 games last season. Returning the reigning Defensive Player of the Year back to the field may not totally make up for the absence of Fitzpatrick, but it sure helps.

Jackson has yet to make his Steelers debut after being traded from the Commanders 11 days ago, and his debut will have to wait at least four more games after being placed on IR. Jackson had already missed the past three games for Washington while dealing with a back injury. Even though the season is only half over, the Steelers are far enough back in the division race that there is no sense in rushing Jackson to return from a back injury before he’s ready.

Lastly, in response to Fitzpatrick’s absence, the Steelers have elevated safety Elijah Riley from the practice squad for this weekend’s game against the Saints.

Contract Details: Baker, O’Neill, Steelers

Despite being in the second half of the NFL season, teams are still actively cleaning up their books in anticipation of upcoming moves or future offseason transactions. We’ve compiled some of the notable financial moves below (plus an interesting note about a future Hall of Fame quarterback):

  • Jerome Baker, LB (Dolphins): restructured deal. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), Baker restructured his contract and reduced his 2022 cap hit by about $2.5MM. This restructuring came on the heels of Miami’s notable trade deadline acquisitions, moves that required the front office to clear up a bit of cap. The 2018 third-round pick has turned into a consistent starter for the Dolphins. After collecting more than 300 tackles through his first three professional seasons, Baker inked a three-year, $39MM extension with the organization back in 2021.
  • Brian O’Neill, OT (Vikings): restructured deal. According to Yates (on Twitter), the Vikings converted $1.8MM of O’Neill’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating close to $1.5MM in cap space. Prior to the move, the Vikings were closing in on the cap, so this should provide them with a bit more wiggle room. In 2021, the former second-round pick signed a five-year, $92.5MM extension with the organization, and he ended up earning his first career Pro Bowl nod later that season.
  • William Jackson III, CB (Steelers): reworked deal. Following his trade to Pittsburgh, Jackson agreed to wipe out the remainder of his per-game roster bonuses, per Yates (on Twitter). Those bonuses were valued at around $44K per game. The cornerback is still due the remainder of his base salary, valued at around $2.7MM, and he helped saved the organization $350K against the cap. Jackson is still attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal that he signed with Washington in 2021. He was traded to the Steelers at the deadline for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick for a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick.
  • Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): contract details. It’s been a while since Aaron Rodgers inked his massive three-year, $150MM extension with Green Bay, but details are still trickling out about the contract. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers’ $58.3MM option bonus in 2023 can be exercised at any time between the first day of the 2023 league year and the day before the Packers’ regular season opener. This is important timing if the Packers decide to trade their franchise quarterback this offseason. Demovsky also provides details on Rodgers’ contract in 2024. The $49.25MM in salary and bonuses is only guaranteed against injury, but it will become fully guaranteed on the fifth day following the previous season’s Super Bowl.