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Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Exit Interviews: James Washington and Chase Claypool

Despite a big discrepancy in snaps played, the two players had the same number of touchdowns in the regular season.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up is wide receivers James Washington and Chase Claypool.

James Washington

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Wide eveiver
Years with the Steelers: 4
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free agent
Contract Details: Expiring rookie contract with no dead money.
Games played in 2021: 15 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 2 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 480 (offense), 3 (special teams)
PFF score: 52.9 (120th of 125)
Notable stats (regular season): Washington had 24 receptions on 44 targets for 285 yards and two touchdowns; two rushes for 13 yards.

Notes: When JuJu Smith-Schuster went down in Week 5, many felt James Washington would get more of a chance in the Steelers‘ offense. But with Washington not really playing the same position as Smith-Schuster, he only saw more than 2/3 of the offensive snaps in three games in 2021, all of which were when either Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool missed the game. Not an integral part to the Steelers offense this season, along with reports that he requested a trade prior to the start of the year, Washington is likely to look elsewhere for another team in need of his services in 2022.

Chase Claypool

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Position: Wide receiver
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 2
Contract Status: Signed through 2023
Contract Details: $1,804,537 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers $1,186,050 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 15 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 13 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 823 (offense), 3 (special teams)
PFF score: 67.2 (69th of 125)
Notable stats (regular season): Claypool had 59 receptions on 105 targets for 860 yards and two touchdowns; 14 rushers for 96 yards.

Notes: Although it felt as if Chase Claypool had a much less productive sophomore season, it was really only in touchdowns where he saw a drop off. Claypool played in one less game in the regular season then he did his rookie year and only had four less targets, three less receptions, and 13 less receiving yards. The big difference was the drop in receiving touchdowns from nine to two and no rushing touchdowns despite having an additional 80 yards carrying the ball this year. Despite a great rookie year which set a high baseline, Claypool needs to show an increase in production in his third season.

So what do you think? How would you conduct Washington’s and Claypool’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Ben Roethlisberger & Najee Harris
Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner & Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor & Dan Moore Jr.
Robert Spillane & Buddy Johnson
Montravius Adams & Isaiahh Loudermilk
Joe Haden & Tre Norwood
Christian Kuntz & Pressley Harvin
JuJu Smith-Schuster & Cody White
J.C. Hassenauer & John Leglue
Marcus Allen & Tegray Scales