On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they terminated the contract of veteran cornerback William Jackson III, a former 1st-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. At the same time, they waived fellow defensive back Carlins Platel, the latter of whom was signed as an undrafted free agent after a tryout in May 2022. Together the moves allow the Steelers to realize $10 million in salary cap savings, clearing a path to sign new players when the free agency signing period begins on March 15.
The Steelers acquired Jackson in a trade with the Washington Commanders on Nov. 1, 2022, but he never played a down for Pittsburgh, leading some observers to get facetious when relaying news of the roster move. For instance, Zachary Smith of Around the 412 tweeted “a montage of his biggest plays” with the Steelers, accompanied by a blank six-second video clip.
In fact, Jackson was placed on injured reserve shortly after he was acquired, and wasn’t cleared to practice until the final week of the regular season.
Yet according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, it’s possible that the Steelers will try to re-sign Jackson.
“But he did seem disenchanted last year not being activated sooner off IR despite being healthy,” tweeted Kaboly on Friday, so perhaps Jackson might not want to return, especially at a much lower salary than the $9.25 million he was scheduled to earn in 2023.
Regardless, the Steelers don’t owe the Commanders any trade compensation, because the swap of late-round 2025 draft picks was contingent on Jackson realizing snaps-played benchmarks.
William Jackson III Was Selected 1 Pick Ahead of Ex-Steelers CB Artie Burns
Jackson originally came into the NFL as the No. 24 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, and was believed to be coveted by the Steelers, who went on to select Miami cornerback Artie Burns at No. 25 overall. The Houston product played for Cincinnati for four seasons before signing a three-year, $42 million contract with the Commanders in 2021.
Jackson has appeared in 75 regular-season games to date, with 64 starts. He has been credited with 205 total tackles (170 solo), with five interceptions and 51 passes defensed, according to Pro Football Reference.
Last November, Washington Commanders insider JP Finlay estimated that there was a “50% chance” that Jackson had “still has good football left and (the Steelers) will get something out of him.”
As for Carlins Platel, he suffered an injury early in training camp last year and spent the season on injured reserve.
Former Steelers 3rd-Round CB Justin Layne Cut by Panthers
In other recent transactional news, the Carolina Panthers cut former Steelers cornerback Justin Layne.
As noted by Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, Layne’s release was no surprise, as he failed to report to the team after the Panthers claimed him on waivers at the end of last season.
The Panthers claimed Layne after he was waived by the Chicago Bears on Dec. 20, 2022.
Layne was drafted No. 83 overall by the Steelers in 2019 out of Michigan State. In three seasons with the Steelers he appeared in 43 games but played just 145 total snaps on defense, which explains why he was considered a top cut candidate in 2022.
After getting waived by the Steelers on Aug. 30, 2022, Layne was claimed by the New York Giants. He went to appear in seven games for New York and recorded four solo tackles over the course of 11 defensive snaps and 91 special teams snaps before getting waived by the Giants and claimed by the Bears.