Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: WR James Washington
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: James Washington was one of three now former Steelers wide receivers who agreed to terms as unrestricted free agents with a new team last week, fulfilling a lifelong dream to join the Dallas Cowboys.
The Steelers invested a second-round draft pick, 60th overall, in the 2018 NFL Draft to grab James Washington out of Oklahoma State. A round late they came back to get his quarterback, Mason Rudolph, who is looking like Mitch Trubisky’s backup this year.
Neither should factor much into the Steelers’ 2022 season—Washington not at all, of course, because he is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. After four years, 114 catches, 1,629 yards, and 11 touchdowns, he’s got a new home—one much closer to home.
You see, Washington himself is a Texan. He owns a 40-acre ranch down there where he lives the farm life with his wife, tending to horses and cattle in between workouts. His introductory press conference with the Cowboys this week was literally delayed because he had to be at the farm to see to an unexpected hay delivery.
Washington never fully connected in the Steelers’ offense, and I don’t think there’s any one reason why. I think there was fault on both ends: he could have done a better job, of course; but the offense also could have utilized him better, and the fact that they devolved into a bad deep-passing team during his time didn’t help.
Is he going to bloom and live up to his draft stock in Dallas playing with Dak Prescott? I’m not going to put my money on him taking the same sort of career trajectory as Emmanuel Sanders, developing into a Pro Bowler and eventually a wily veteran. But I think he can certainly do better than his numbers in Pittsburgh. He did put up 735 yards with Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019. And he is capable of making some plays.