William Jackson III denies that he wants out of Washington originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Days after the NFL Network reported that he wanted a “fresh start” and, specifically, the chance to line up in a defensive scheme that better suits his abilities, William Jackson III denied that notion in a session with the local media.
“I never said that,” Jackson explained Tuesday while sitting on a stool inside the Commanders locker room. “I never said, ‘I want out.’ I love my teammates, I love being around the guys. People are going to write what they want to write. I just sit back and do my job.”
In his own press conference, Ron Rivera declined to speak about Jackson’s standing with the organization. Instead, the coach merely offered that the corner is working through a rehab plan for a back injury that’s kept him out of two games this year.
When asked if Jackson would get the chance to contribute in the future if he’s healthy enough to — remember, he was pulled early from the Week 5 loss to the Titans because the team wanted to “make a change” — Rivera remained vague.
“Well, we’ll see,” Rivera said. “That’s to be determined.”
A key part of the NFL Network’s initial story regarding Jackson’s desire to depart from Washington is that he’s apparently interested in being deployed more as a man-to-man cover specialist, which he believes fits his skill set the best.
On Tuesday, he demurred when that issue was mentioned.
“I haven’t talked to anyone,” Jackson said. “Who did I talk to? You guys are the only ones that are here. So, I don’t really know who I talked to or how that came out. But it is what it is.”
In reflecting on his overall tenure with the club — the defensive back signed with the franchise for three years and $26 million guaranteed in March of 2021 but has struggled with injuries, penalties and coverage breakdowns — Jackson admitted that it hasn’t been an ideal experience.
“It’s been adversity, for sure,” he said. “But that’s a part of the game. I was asked to do different things. I’m just trying to get accustomed with the zone, still getting that together. It’s coming together slowly [but] surely and I’m just ready to move forward with this injury.”
This summer, Jackson, Rivera, coordinator Jack Del Rio and others all expressed optimism that the 29-year-old would reassert himself as a trustworthy player on the outside following his disappointing debut season with the squad.
“Night and day” is how secondary coach Chris Harris described how Jackson was looking heading into Week 1.
However, the back issue — which Jackson has labeled a bulging disc, one that hampers his ability to get into his stance and turn and run with receivers — and the continuation of unsatisfactory play has made that positive talk look silly.
“It’s different,” Jackson said of how the Commanders go about stopping their opponents. “It’s totally different. Everything is different on every team, nothing’s the same. Just got to keep learning and keep growing from it.”
The NFL’s trade deadline is Nov. 1, and in the past couple of contests, Washington has bumped Benjamin St-Juste into Jackson’s old spot and inserted Rachad Wildgoose into the slot to round out the cornerback rotation.
So, while Jackson largely dismissed rumors about him being shipped out, the defense has seemingly moved on from him, meaning he could still be involved in a transaction whether he is pushing for one or not.