The Dallas Cowboys’ rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers is alive and well as the team made their first outside addition of free agency by reaching an agreement with wide receiver James Washington. The Cowboys had a void to fill at receiver after trading Amari Cooper and losing Cedrick Wilson in free agency.
“Cowboys have added their first external free agent. Former Steelers WR James Washington is coming to Dallas on a one-year contract, source said,” Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken detailed on Twitter on March 18.
The news comes days after former Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant predicted that Washington would sign with Dallas. Washington had 24 receptions for 285 yards and two receptions for the Steelers in 2021.
“James Washington to the Dallas cowboys just know you heard it first right here….,” Bryant tweeted on March 15.
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The Steelers Selected Washington With the No. 60 Pick in the 2018 NFL Draft
Washington now has an opportunity to become the Cowboys WR3 next to CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. The wideout was a star receiver at Oklahoma State posting 74 receptions for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior season at Stillwater in 2017. While at Oklahoma State, Washington had three straight seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards.
Washington was unable to find the same kind of success in Pittsburgh, but did notch a career-high 44 receptions for 735 yards and three touchdowns in his 15 appearances in 2019, which included 10 starts.
Big Ben: Washington ‘Needs to Get on the Field More’
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in August 2021 that Washington requested to be traded by the Steelers. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin later refuted this report.
“He has not,” Tomlin said at the time, per Sports Illustrated’s Noah Strackbein. “Those unnamed sources, we do not react to or respond to. James has been great here, working and having a good camp.”
Longtime NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger praised Washington throughout his tenure with the Steelers. During a December 2020 interview, Roethlisberger campaigned for Washington to see more snaps.
“James Washington is a guy that is getting on the field and needs to get on the field more,” Roethlisberger noted, per ESPN. “But it’s not because anybody’s not doing good. It’s just because he’s a player that can make plays. We always talk about guys staying fresh. We need to rotate guys, get him on the field, because he’s hungry, wants to be out there and make plays for us.”
The Cowboys Have Had a Quiet Start to Free Agency
The Cowboys have been quiet so far in free agency as the team refuses to get into a bidding war for star players. The most notable news came as Randy Gregory had a change of heart and signed with the Broncos despite Dallas announcing he had re-signed with the team. CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker sees the Washington move as a positive addition for the Cowboys offense in what has been an underwhelming start to free agency.
“Sidenote: I was really high on Washington as a prospect and I’m still not convinced he was utilized well by the Steelers and a declining Big Ben,” Walker tweeted after the signing. “Interested to see what he does here on a prove-it deal. Just my opinion. True: I don’t like Coop move. Also true: I like JW as a WR3.”