Should the Pittsburgh Steelers trade WR James Washington?

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

James Washington has reportedly approached the Pittsburgh Steelers about a trade. Should the organization start entertaining offers? 

Less than a full day after the Steelers vs. Cowboys Hall of Fame Game, James Washington has officially requested to be traded, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. This trade request caught me off guard, but I can’t say that I don’t understand why Washington wants out.

Let me start by saying that I feel for James Washington. I really do. The former 2018 second-round pick was supposed to have a much larger role on this team. But in back-to-back years, the Steelers spent high draft capital on Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool – making Washington an afterthought.

Because of his drastic drop in playing time since the 2019 season, his production sharply declined last year. For a young wide receiver who will be looking for a contract after the 2021 season, I completely understand why he wants out. Riding the bench this season isn’t going to do his bank account any favors.

With a number of young options to turn to in the passing game and with this news is already going public, should the Steelers agree to grant Washington a trade?

Should Steelers trade James Washington?

The Steelers haven’t done Washington’s career any favors. The former Oklahoma State star was one of the most productive receivers in the history of the Big 12, and some thought he should have been a first-round pick. Though Washington has just average size and athletic traits, he is still very good at reeling the ball in through traffic and tracking it in the air.

For a team looking for a very good number three receiver, Washington could be well worth the asking price. Unfortunately for the Steelers, because he’s in a contract year, Pittsburgh could probably ask for no more than a 6th-round pick in exchange for a one-year rental of Washington.

Is a late-round draft choice worth dealing arguably the best WR4 in the NFL right now? Of course not, but this may run deeper than it appears on the surface. NFL teams work closely with agents, and in order to maintain a healthy relationship with them, the Steelers could agree to grant Washington’s representatives the chance to move him elsewhere.

In addition, James Washington is a high-character player who has been very patient with this team despite limited opportunities. Pittsburgh could do his career a solid by trading him and allowing Washington to earn a bigger paycheck in 2022.

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When it all comes down to it, I’m personally not a fan of trading quality, high-character football players when my team is trying to win a Super Bowl, but the Steelers were asking for trouble when they buried their second-round pick on the depth chart. Pittsburgh has a chance to make it right by allowing James Washington to seek a trade.