Fowler: Former Steelers WR James Washington Visiting Saints Monday

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington is trying to get back into the NFL with a Monday visit with the New Orleans Saints. That’s according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who tweeted the news Sunday afternoon.

Washington was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2018 draft, a big-play receiver in Oklahoma State’s high-flying offense. Pittsburgh drafted Washington and his college QB Mason Rudolph in back-to-back rounds. After a quiet rookie season, Washington had a strong 2019 year, catching 44 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. Most of that success despite not playing with Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week Two.

But from there, Washington’s stats and involvement in the offense fell off. With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool taking away his snaps, Washington reportedly requested a trade in the summer of 2021. It was denied by the team and he served as a backup/rotational player for the final year of his rookie deal, ending the year with 24 receptions and a pair of touchdowns.

At his best, Washington was a vertical receiver who lacked speed and separation ability but was a competent jump-ball receiver with strong and reliable hands.

After becoming a free agent for the 2022 offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. But he broke his foot in training camp and was placed on IR to begin the year. He wasn’t activated off it until mid-December and appeared in only two games, catching zero passes on one target. He briefly signed to the New York Giants’ practice squad in January but wasn’t retained after their season ended.

Though still just 27, Washington is running out of NFL chances. The Saints may offer him a chance to latch onto the bottom of their depth chart but they retained Michael Thomas and spent a first-round pick last season on Chris Olave, who had a great rookie year. They drafted Wake Forest WR A.T. Perry in the sixth round of the 2023 draft. Washington’s lack of special-teams value is also working against him but he’ll try to get into a camp and show he can still be a vertical threat as a receiver in the league.

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