The receiver who has reportedly requested a trade was none other than 4th year receiver James Washington. This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Steelers’ WR James Washington, a former 2018 second-round pick, has approached the Steelers and requested a trade based on his limited playtime last season and so far this preseason, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 6, 2021
In his three NFL seasons, James Washington has 1,344 receiving yards on 190 receptions in regular season games. Leading the Steelers in receiving yards in 2019 with 735, Washington didn’t come close to that total in 2020 with only 392 yards. The biggest difference may have been the number of targets Washington saw as he had 80 in 2019 and only 56 in 2020.
Of course, Washington has to be on the field in order to receive targets. In 2019 he saw 634 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference, but only had 486 in 2020 despite playing all 16 games. One interesting stat of note is that, according to PFR, Washington‘s drop percentage has increased each of his three NFL seasons. With a 5.3% rate his rookie season, Washington increased to 6.3% in 2019 and 7.1% in 2020.
On Thursday night, Washington had two targets with no receptions.
What makes this entire situation even more strange, was how Thursday night Dez Bryant took to Twitter and said how if a team wanted a top tier receiver, they should trade for Washington.
If you are a team and want a top tier WR trade for James Washington….. thank me later— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) August 6, 2021
Maybe it is just one Oklahoma State receiver looking out for another, but Washington wanting out certainly seems a little off base. Not only is it hard to believe Washington isn’t the type of player who would storm into Mike Tomlin or Kevin Colbert’s office and request a trade, but the Steelers have Washington as quality depth in their receiving corps.
At the same time, if the Steelers get a team who would want to trade for Washington, it could work out in the Steelers’ favor. The fact remains Washington is buried on the depth chart behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. On top of that, Washington is in the final year of his rookie contract. With it highly unlikely the Steelers re-sign Washington, getting something for him could be viewed as a win.
There will be more to this story in the coming hours/days, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they continue to prepare for the 2021 regular season.