2018 second-rounder WR James Washington has formally requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Washington hasn't been happy with his playtime since being drafted and wasn't pleased with his minor role in the Hall of Fame game. Former NFL star WR Dez Bryant backs James Washington's decision on Twitter:
In 2020, James Washington played 44% of the offensive snaps for Pittsburgh, but only had 56 targets. To compare, Diontae Johnson played 67% of snaps, had 144 targets, but also led the league in drops last year. The Steelers originally drafted James Washington out of Oklahoma State as a deep threat. During the Hall of Fame game, he saw two targets with zero catches, both short passes. As a rookie, he had 217 yards and a TD, but had a breakout with a team-leading 735 yards and was 3rd on the team with 44 catches. Last season, he had just 30 catches with 392 and a career-high five TDs when stuck behind Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson.
Pittsburgh would be best suited to retain James Washington long-term with Johnson's issue with drops and Juju Smith-Schuster's regression. They will be losing a great asset to the offense. Ray-Ray McCloud is not a threat at WR and Cody White is still untested during the regular season. The Steelers could find a replacement with a trade for N'Keal Harry, who could bring back FA Donte Moncrief, or look into Dez Bryant.
Three potential teams to trade James Washington to
#1 - New Orleans Saints
WR Michael Thomas could miss a large portion of the season, forcing Tre'Quan Smith into the limelight. He might not be ready though, similar to Juju Smith-Schuster when Antonio Brown left. If Thomas does return near mid-season, James Washington could slide into the WR2 role and upgrade the entire WR group with lackluster depth. Washington doesn't struggle to get open and could become a favorite of Jameis Winston (if he becomes the starter).
#2 - Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have Allen Robinson, theoretically, for another year. Darnell Mooney could have a career-year with his speed, but Damiere Byrd isn't exciting at WR3 and Marquise Goodwin could find some success with his elite speed downfield. James Washington could replace Byrd and start either outside or in the slot. Justin Fields gains three speedster starters at his disposal, which could help keep Robinson in Chicago.
#3 - Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions make more sense over the possible Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, and Minnesota Vikings. The Lions are in a rebuild and still piecing together an offense. Starter Breshad Perriman has barely seen more targets than James Washington. Tyrell Williams has only topped 1,000-yards once in 2016 and hasn't eclipsed 700 yards the last two seasons. James Washington could be the main guy for Jared Goff in Detroit while rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown and Quentez Cephus grow into larger roles.
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The asking price for James Washington, based on other recent WR trades, could be a fourth-round pick.