William Jackson's 5th-Year Contract Option Exercised by Bengals

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: William Jackson #22 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts after an interception returned for a touchdown by Shawn Williams #36 in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals announced they have picked up the fifth-year contract option for cornerback William Jackson, keeping him with the team through the 2020 season.

The 26-year-old recorded 41 tackles and 13 passes defensed while starting all 16 games in 2018. He will make the average of the third- through 25th-highest salaries among cornerbacks in 2020.

Selected with the No. 24 pick in the 2016 draft out of Houston, Jackson missed his entire rookie season due to a torn pectoral. He returned in 2017 but only started five games before emerging as a solid starter last season.

The Bengals re-signed Darqueze Dennard to a one-year contract this offseason. Dre Kirkpatrick is under contract through 2021, so it appears the Bengals secondary next season will be almost the same as it was in 2018.

That might not be for the best. Cincinnati ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed, with opposing quarterbacks posting a 100.0 rating. Football Outsiders ranked the Bengals as the league's eighth-worst pass defense.

Jackson's 2020 contract will only be guaranteed for injury, so the Bengals could ultimately wind up moving on if he has a down 2019. That said, the 6-foot, 196-pounder was at times a lone bright spot in a weak secondary last season and appears to be on an upward trajectory.

If the ascent continues, the Bengals might wind up extending him long-term next offseason rather than playing him on the option. 

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