William Jackson III, healthy again, drawing interest from teams: ‘All the doubters, just using it as motivation’

Former Bengals first-round pick has recovered from back injury: ‘I’m feeling 100 percent’

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: William Jackson III #3 of the Washington Commanders defends against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill, 2022 Cooper Neill)

CYPRESS – Hoisting barbells, running sprints and performing agility drills, William Jackson III is doing what he loves: preparing to play the game of football.

The former University of Houston star cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick and Washington Commanders $40.5 million man is getting ready for another NFL season.

The veteran defensive back, released in March by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a trade from the Commanders, has made a full recovery from a back injury that hampered him last season.

Now, Jackson, 30, is determined to launch a successful comeback. He has drawn interest from multiple NFL teams and is biding his time as he contemplates which team to sign with.

“I’m feeling great, I’m just feeling really motivated,” Jackson told KPRC 2 during a workout at Ollin Athletics and Sports Medicine. “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.”

A former Wheatley High School standout who played opposite Miami Dolphins standout corner Xavien Howard, Jackson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds at the NFL scouting combine.

At 6-foot 3/8, 190 pounds, Jackson is a tall, long-armed defensive back with the cover skills and size to match up with top wide receivers.

Jackson was signed to a three-year, $40.5 million contract with the Commanders in 2021 and intercepted two passes. After starting four games, he dealt with a bulging disc in his back and was inactive before being traded to the Steelers along with a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick. Upon being traded to Pittsburgh, he was placed on injured reserve and appeared in no games for the remainder of the season. The draft picks included in the trade were voided, and the Steelers saved $12.187 million against the salary cap by releasing Jackson.

“I’m great,” Jackson said. “Just a minor setback for a major comeback. Everybody goes through injuries. Just feeling great, I’m 100 percent, feeling back to full speed and ready to show everybody what I can do.”

Jackson isn’t in a rush to sign with a team. He wants to contemplate his options and make the right decision in consultation with his Houston-based agent Kennard McGuire.

“Yeah, I’m just taking it slow,” Jackson said. “There’s no rush. I want to come in and give 100 percent of me. I don’t want to half-step. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling 100 percent. I’m excited. I’m just waiting on the right opportunity.”

What should people expect from him this season: “Oh yeah, be looking.”

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