Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: WR James Washington
Stock Value: Down
I feel it necessary to start this one off by noting that, for the time being, I’m still in Week 17 mode as far as the stock value goes. It is in that light in which I maintain that James Washington’s stock is down as a result of his performance against the Baltimore Ravens in the final game of the season.
Following a very positive eight-game stretch in which the second-year wide receiver produced 34 receptions for 574 yards and three touchdowns, he would go on to be blanked in the season finale, targeted three times without catching a single pass, arguably two of which he was responsible for dropping.
Now, it also needs to be mentioned that the weather conditions in the game that day were awfully bad. It was raining, sometimes pouring, and it was especially bad when he was dropping his targets. Still, that’s ultimately no excuse. Wide receivers are paid to make catches in any condition, and he was known to have strong hands coming out of college.
It’s especially disappointing given how productive he had become, at times even stepping up and looking like a number one wide receiver. In a more global view, painting with a broader brush, it was fin to watch his development this season and what that will mean for Ben Roethlisberger and the wide receiving corps in 2020.
Using as thin a brush as possible, however, we are left to examine his final game of the season, which leaves us off on a sour note. This was the second game of the season in which he was held without a catch, but in the other, he was only targeted one time. Conversely, Diontae Johnson caught at least one pass in every game.
Washington made strides this year, no doubt. He finished the season leading the team with 735 receiving yards, doing so on 44 receptions with three touchdowns, averaging a healthy 16.7 yards per catch. But now it’s about building on that and becoming an even better contributor each year.