New Steelers TE Darnell Washington Hits up Mike Tomlin With Big Request

jersey swap: Burgh Creative; Mike Tomlin: Getty Steelers TE Darnell Washington tagged Mike Tomlin in a tweet.


Update: Darnell Washington’s request to wear 0 was denied, as he’ll don 80 instead. The Steelers unveiled jersey numbers for the rookie class on May 3, 2023.

Not but two hours after his name was called on April 29, Darnell Washington already had a question for his new boss. The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, selected with the 93rd pick of the 2023 NFL draft, hit up Mike Tomlin on Twitter with a subtle request to be assigned jersey No. 0. He wisely brought Steelers Nation into the conversation by using the Steeler Nation tag.

It’s a number that Washington is close to, having worn it as part of the Georgia Bulldogs from 2020 to 2022. The No. 0 jersey has been eligible in the NCAA since 2020, but the proposal to wear it in the NFL was only just passed in March 2023 — first suggested by the Philadelphia Eagles. The pros began permitting most position groups to wear single-digit jersey numbers, initiated by the Kansas City Chiefs, in 2021. Until then, only quarterbacks, kickers and punters were allowed to wear Nos. 1 to 9.

For Washington to be assigned No. 0, it would have to get past Steelers president and owner Art Rooney II. It would be a pretty big deal. He’s as old-school as they come, so it would be a surprise if he acquiesced. As The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly pointed out, Rooney doesn’t even allow No. 1.

We’ll definitely see players sporting zero starting with the 2023 season, but will Washington be among them?

Darnell Washington Reuniting with George Pickens, Broderick Jones

Wearing zero or not, one thing is certain: Darnell Washington will reunite with former Georgia Bulldogs teammates George Pickens and Broderick Jones.

“The emotion is crazy. This is a dream come true,” said Washington via Teresa Varley of “Not only that, it comes with perks playing with my old teammate, George (Pickens) and Broderick Jones being on the same team. It’s hard for me to speak right now because of how happy I am. Just to be a Steeler. A great franchise. To become a part of that is amazing.”

Washington spent all three seasons (2020-2022) with Jones, who was selected No. 14 overall. Pickens, of course, joined the Steelers circa the 2022 NFL draft.

How Darnell Washington Fits in With the Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada spoke with the press on April 28, moments after Omar Khan and assistant general manager Andy Weidl picked Darnell Washington at No. 93. He intimated that Washington won’t be utilized as much for his pass-catching abilities as for his advanced blocking prowess. But don’t be surprised if he pulls off some George Pickens-type highlights in 2023.

“Washington is an advanced TE blocker and will be ready to contribute as a run masher right away,” The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner wrote. “He’s also a great jump-ball threat, he’s a better pass-catcher than he showed at Georgia. Health, for a man this size, is a concern. If it holds, this is a major get for Pittsburgh – who is having one hell of a [draft] day two.”

Adding Washington to the roster might not bode well for Zach Gentry, who the Steelers re-signed to a one-year deal on April 4, 2023. But as Dale Lolley of noted, Pittsburgh did use more two and three tight end sets in 2022 than they had previously.

“The addition of Washington also would seem to signal that 2022 sixth-round draft pick Connor Heyward will be making a move to fullback on a more permanent basis,” Lolley wrote, “though he is still certainly capable of doing some tight end work as he showed in his rookie season.”

“The Steelers have the capability to line up in a big package with [Pat] Freiermuth, Gentry and Washington on the field and run the ball, or split people out wide out of that package and throw it.”

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments