In less than 24 hours, the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost three of their top five wide receivers from 2021 to free agency. First, it was Ray-Ray McCloud to the San Francisco 49ers. Then JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Kansas City Chiefs. Now according to ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter, James Washington is signing with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Steelers drafted Washington in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. Despite making plays every time he got on the field, the team never saw fit to give Washington a prominent role in the offense. Washington had a career-best 30 receptions for 392 receiving yards in 2020.
These losses mean wide receiver becomes the team’s top priority going forward. Look for Pittsburgh to bring in talent via free agency as well as through the 2022 NFL draft.
Washington was a second-round pick of the Steelers in 2018, but he never had a major impact in Pittsburgh's offense. His best season was 2019 when he caught 44 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. Since then, Washington's numbers declined as he found himself behind Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Washington caught 30 passes in 2020 and 24 this past season for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
The plus-side for Washington is that he still has 11 career touchdowns despite limited snaps and he averaged 14.3 yards per catch in his career, proof that he has big-play potential.
A native of Stamford, Texas, Washington played in three straight state title games at AT&T Stadium, winning two (2012 & 2013) championships. He then starred at Oklahoma State, where he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.
With Amari Cooper being traded this week to Cleveland, Washington joins a Cowboys receiver group that features CeeDee Lamb as the No. 1 receiver, followed by Michael Gallup, whose availability for the start of the season is questioned as he rehabs an ACL injury. The Cowboys also re-signed Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko returns after his rookie season.
In need of depth and experience at receiver, the Cowboys have added both in former Steelers wide receiver James Washington. The four-year veteran and native Texan has agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with the Cowboys.