We’ll be breaking down all the major and minor moves for NFL Free Agency with grades and analysis. You can find the comprehensive list of moves and grades here.
Reported deal: Three years/$42 million with $26 million guaranteed
With Ronald Darby gone, the Washington Football Team needed a corner to replace him. Washington did better than just replace with the signing of William Jackson. Jackson has been one of the league’s most underrated corners since he came into the league while hidden on the Bengals’ defense.
Jackson only has three career interceptions, but has at least 10 passes defensed in three of his four seasons. Even in his down year in 2019 with just three passes defensed, he was an above-average corner by coverage stats. In 2020, Just 44.9% of passes thrown into Jackson’s coverage were completed, which was below only Jaire Alexander and Xavien Howard among full-time cornerbacks, according to Sports Info Solutions. The only receiver who really got to Jackson in 2020 was Terry McLaurin (5-3-81), who is now his teammate.
Washington mostly kept their cornerbacks on sides while they ran a ton of zone coverage. But they were third in defensive DVOA and second against the pass. The biggest flaw was that Washington ranked 27th in DVOA against No. 1 receivers, according to Football Outsiders. Jackson gives the defense the ability to shadow opposing top receivers and give more versatility to the defensive structure. With Jackson, Jimmy Moreland, Kendall Fuller, Landon Collins, and Kameron Curl, Washington has a promising young secondary behind one of the best defensive lines in the league.
At $14 million per year, Washington has Jackson under contract as a high-end No. 2 corner, though Jackson brings the potential for No. 1-type play. This is basically the deal the Bengals paid to Trae Waynes last offseason in the effort to pair him with Jackson. Washington gets a better corner than they lost and Jackson finds himself in a much better secondary.