NFL Trade rumors: Steelers WR James Washington breaks silence on why he wants to be traded

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers

Earlier this offseason, news broke that 25-year-old wide receiver James Washington requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. According to Schefter, Washington's desire to depart from Pittsburgh commenced from the lack of playing time and reserve role that he endured throughout the entirety of the season.

In 2020, James Washington caught 30 passes for 392 yards along with five touchdowns. He had a rather down year from his 2019 campaign in which he reeled in 44 receptions, good for 735 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 16.7 yards per catch.

James Washington's tenure with the Steelers

After being selected second-round (60th overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft, the product out of Oklahoma State was drafted to serve as the third-piece of a dynamic trio in Pittsburgh along with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown departed the Steelers, leaving James Washington to become the number two option in the receiving corps. But rookie Diontae Johnson emerged as a speedy, reliable weapon -- limiting Washington's role.

The emergence of Chase Claypool last season and the continued ascension of Johnson resulted in the four-year veteran wideout having a severe deduction in playing time and a very limited role with the team. Coming into a contract season it makes complete since for James Washington to want to seek a trade and have an actual chance to prove his worth throughout the league and earn a more lucrative contract.

James Washington didn't directly confirm or deny his rumored desire to leave Pittsburgh, though he admitted he spoke to offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the coaching staff about an expanded role on the Steelers' offense. It appears that an underutilized receiver is committed to the Steelers. However, it's apparent that he would like to be featured within the teams offense or he'll gladly take his talents elsewhere.

'I just want to compete and help the team win. It gives me that drive to want to get out there and put my hand in the pile and just help the team to victory.'
"It's been talked about," Washington said. "But I'm just trying to do what I can. I just want to show people I can be available and make the plays they want me to make. Just do what I need to do."

As it stands, James Washington is part of a receiving group featuring JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. He's currently listed as the fourth receiver on the depth chart. If this trend continues and he receives a similar role to last season, then his trade demand will become reality and he'll be catching passes for another team before the season concludes.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar