Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: Up
Reasoning: Over the weekend, James Washington was removed from the reserve/Covid-19 list. Not only does that mean that he can begin to participate in team activities, the brief nature of his stay on the list also points to the likelihood that he didn’t actually test positive for Covid-19, and that he either was believed to have been exposed to the virus or possibly registered a false positive.
Since the start of training camp, the Steelers have placed four players on the reserve/Covid-19 list. Two of them have since been reactivated (one subsequently released), one of those two being third-year veteran wide receiver James Washington.
Needless to say, coming off a reserve list is ‘stock up’ for Washington, who will have not missed a great deal. Team will only begin to run true practices on Wednesday the 12th. Up to this point, they have only been doing strength and conditioning work with the occasional walkthrough session. Helmets come on (but not pads) in a couple of days.
A former second-round pick, Washington’s 2019 season counts as something of a modest breakthrough after managing to lead the Steelers in receiving yards, albeit with just 735, in a year in which Ben Roethlisberger only managed to play six quarters before an elbow injury sidelined him for the rest of the campaign.
With a healthy Roethlisberger and most stability around him at wide receiver, including JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, things are setting up well for the Steelers’ passing game to be revitalized in 2020, and with Washington playing a significant role within it.
One area that should improve is the deep passing game. Washington had the most incomplete deep targets in the league a year ago in which the quarterback was responsible for the incompletion. While Roethlisberger’s deep ball can go hot and cold, he can surely do better than Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges trading places.