The Pittsburgh Steelers need to clear salary cap space if they want to make some noise during NFL free agency The team apparently has a plan to at least begin generating cap room.
NFL writer Chad Forbes reported that the Steelers plan to release cornerback William Jackson III.
If the Steelers release Jackson, they will save more than $12 million in salary cap space for the 2023 season. Furthermore, by cutting Jackson, the Steelers will not have any dead cap space for Jackson.
Steelers’ Need for Salary Cap Space
If the Steelers do nothing before NFL free agency officially begins on March 15, they will not be able to fit any new players under the salary cap. Spotrac reported that as of March 7, the Steelers are over the cap by a little more than $300,000.
Cutting Jackson is one of the more obvious moves the Steelers can do to open some wiggle room against the cap. Because Jackson has no dead cap money remaining on his deal, the Steelers can release the veteran cornerback and completely clear the $12.176 million he is due to make in 2023 from their roster.
General manager Omar Khan can then use that space to re-sign one of the team’s prime free agents. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly has identified cornerback Cameron Sutton as the team’s top priority to re-sign.
Fellow starting defenders — safety Terrell Edmunds and defensive end Larry Ogunjobi — are two other players the Steelers may be interested in re-signing this offseason.
There’s also the possibility that Khan will use the cap space generated from releasing Jackson to target free agents from other teams.
Former Steelers edge rusher Bud Dupree is now available after the Tennessee Titans released him on March 6. Dupree could be a candidate to return to Pittsburgh if he’s willing to play on a team-friendly deal.
There could also be other players cut within the next week or two that the Steelers could target in free agency provided they have the cap space.
Steelers Plan to Release Jackson
Pittsburgh reportedly planning to cut Jackson shouldn’t come as a surprise. NFL writer Curt Popejoy of USA Today included Jackson on his list of potential cuts for the Steelers in January.
“Trading for William Jackson III sounded good on paper but a back injury kept him off the field for his full tenure with the team,” Popejoy wrote. “Now the Steelers have a chance to right that wrong by cutting him loose and saving $12.75 million.”
The Steelers acquired Jackson with a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick at the trade deadline for a 2025 sixth-rounder. Jackson never played a snap for Pittsburgh, as he sat out the end of the 2022 season with a back injury.
Jackson has seven years of NFL experience having played for the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Commanders. The Bengals drafted Jackson just in front of the Steelers’ selection at No. 24 in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Steelers pick fellow cornerback Artie Burns at No. 25.
In 75 career games, Jackson has posted 205 combined tackles with 5 interceptions and 51 pass defenses. He also has 6 tackles for loss and 1 sack.