Washington Commanders bench William Jackson, their second-highest-paid player, in loss to Titans

Week 5 was another one to forget for the Washington Commanders as they were sent to 1-4 with their fourth consecutive loss. For sixth-year cornerback William Jackson, not only did his team take another ‘L’, but he may have also lost his job.

Out in Week 3 with an injury, the first three games Jackson started, he played anywhere between 95% and 100% of the snaps. But against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday? Only 15 snaps, or 23% of the defensive workload.

It was a questionable move, considering the 2016 first-round pick didn’t appear to suffer another injury or anything that would prevent him from taking the field. The one factor keeping Jackson from returning to the game? His head coach Ron Rivera.

After the game’s conclusion, Rivera was asked what happened with Jackson’s snap total during the game and why one of the team’s top corners suddenly stopped playing. The coach was honest.

“We just decided to make a change. We make decisions based on the flow of the game. That was one of the things we decided on.”

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera on why William Jackson stopped playing

While his coach didn’t hesitate to throw him under the bus, Jackson had a different take on the situation after the game.

“Just dealing with a back injury. I’m fighting through it for my teammates but things happen. When you’re just playing hurt, it’s better to let someone else to go in. I’ve got a disc and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Jackson said.

While we may not have the full story here with his coach saying one thing and the player saying another, it’s clear Washington’s effort on defense hasn’t been good enough since Jackson joined Jack Del Rio’s unit.

Related: Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders drop another ugly game: 3 major takeaways

William Jackson isn’t the only large investment that hasn’t worked out

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Washington Commanders
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • William Jackson III stats with Washington (16 games): 55 tackles (one for loss), 10 PD, 2 INT
  • 149.8 passer rating allowed, 16 catches allowed on 19 targets per Pro Football Focus in 2022

Jackson’s absence was particularly noteworthy on Sunday. Not because his play has been outstanding, as that hasn’t been the case. Instead, his departure was interesting as the 29-year-old corner had just been signed to a three-year, $40 million contract as a free agent last offseason.

Only, Jackson simply hasn’t been the difference-maker he was signed to be. Last season Jackson ranked 144th among cornerbacks, according to PFF. While he may be battling injuries so far in 2022, Jackson hasn’t been any better, grading 133rd in comparison to his fellow cornerbacks.

Obviously, this isn’t a good look for the team or the locker room. Jackson is the second-highest-paid player on the roster ($13.8M cap hit) behind quarterback Carson Wentz, who rakes in $28.2 million this season. It’s not hard to see that the Commanders would be better without both on the roster, saving $41 million that could be spent elsewhere.

Yet, life isn’t that simple. Releasing Jackson would incur a $22 million cap hit on their 2022 salary cap sheet. Next year the number shrinks to $9 million. They’re in the same boat with Wentz. Washington cutting its starting quarterback would also mean a $22 million cap penalty. Next year, they can walk away from Wentz without any penalty at all.

Basically, no matter how bad things get in Washington, they’re stuck with their two most-expensive players in 2022. Benching either one might be Washington’s best bet. We saw Jackson benched (possibly due to injury) this week. Does that mean Wentz could be next?

Related: Ron Rivera’s hot seat is boiling following Washington Commanders loss to the Dallas Cowboys

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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