Typically, when the Dallas Cowboys sign a new free agent, the player doesn’t already own a massive ranch in Texas. Not for James Washington.
But when you’ve got roots like the 25-year-old receiver does, it does make a little sense. Long before he reached Oklahoma State and then the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington was a standout athlete at Stamford High School in Stamford, Texas.
Now, he’s returned to the Lone Star State on a one-year contract with the Cowboys after his release from the Steelers. Interestingly enough, his introductory press conference was apparently a day late due to his ranch responsibilities, per ESPN reporter Todd Archer.
Of course, the media in attendance couldn’t let that slip by. Washington was asked a bit more about what owning the ranch is like.
“I usually go work out at like 8:30, 9:30 in the morning. Come back, feed horses, feed cows, check everything. Make sure everything’s good,” Washington explained, per DallasCowboys.com. Go back and work out in the afternoon from 3:30-5:30. If I’ve got a little time I’ll come home and sometimes rope — I rope on the weekend sometimes. Come back and dock the cattle, check on the horses again and make sure everything’s fed. Other than that, I just hang with my wife here at the house. Just enjoying the ranch life out in the middle of nowhere.”
It doesn’t get more Cowboy than that, but it’s still not what you expect out of the modern-day NFL receiver. But Washington isn’t typical in a few different ways, and his arrival in Dallas from Pittsburgh brings an interesting dynamic to the Cowboys offense.
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Washington Leaving Steelers with ‘Meat on the Bone’
One interesting comment that Washington made in his March 24 media availability was that he felt like he didn’t get to be the receiver he wanted to be with the Steelers. After being selected in the second round in the 2018 NFL draft, Washington spent four seasons in Pittsburgh but never really broke out.
For the 25-year-old, he thinks that’s partially due to a crowded WR room.
“I feel like with everything that transpired at Pittsburgh, I didn’t really get to show my full self,” Washington said according to USA Today. “We had a crowded room at receiver. But nothing against anyone else, I feel like there’s a lot of meat left on the bone. I didn’t really get to fully develop myself and make strides like I wanted to.”
PFR shows that over four seasons with the Steelers, Washington totaled 1629 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He only missed a total of 5 games over the four seasons, and averaged 14.3 yards per catch.
That’s a high average, which bodes well for more targets for the free agency addition in Dallas. If Washington and quarterback Dak Prescott can get in sync, the receiver may be able to replicate or improve on his career-high 2019 season, where he racked up 735 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 44 catches.
Receiver’s Contract with Cowboys
The Cowboys have set themselves up well with the former Steelers WR’s contract. According to Spotrac, Dallas has Washington on a prove-it deal that won’t harm them too much if he doesn’t pan out.
Washington’s deal is for one-year, and pays him a fully guaranteed $1.048 million this season. It’s basically the veteran minimum for Washington, and is pretty basic due to it not featuring incentive-based bonuses.
Fortunately, the contract itself is incentive. Washington can kickstart his NFL career with a breakout year in Dallas, and the Cowboys would love for the Texas native to end up as a suitable replacement for Amari Cooper.