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James Washington says he loves playing in Pittsburgh despite reported trade request from Steelers

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The future of James Washington in Pittsburgh seems to be a bit up in the air. Following the Steelers‘ preseason opener against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, it was reported that the receiver had requested a trade from the franchise, citing unhappiness with his role in the passing game. However, head coach Mike Tomlin followed up a few days later and said that Washington did not request a trade. Fast forward to Wednesday and Washington himself spoke to the media for the first time since that reported trade request came across the newswire. When asked about it, the fourth-year receiver didn’t say one way or another if he actually asked the team to be moved. 

“That’s a private conversation,” Washington said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “As far as me being happy in Pittsburgh, I love it here. Who wouldn’t be happy playing football as their job? I come to work every day with a smile on my face.”

Part of the reason Washington reportedly wanted out was due to his role within the offense. On that front, he did admit that he approached the coaching staff about being more involved. 

“It’s been talked about,” he said.

The Steelers drafted Washington in the second round (No. 60 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. His 2019 campaign looked to be the start of a significant ascension in the Pittsburgh offense, as he played 64% of the offensive snaps while totaling 735 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 44 catches. However, his playing time and production took a step back in 2020 when he saw the field on offense just 44% of the time. 

It will be interesting to see how the Steelers will be able to enhance Washington’s role in the passing game. Pittsburgh is pretty deep at receiver with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson all above Washington on the depth chart. If that challenge proves to be too daunting of a task, it’ll be curious to see if Washington becomes a bit less coy about possibly continuing his NFL career elsewhere. 

Can Big Ben return to glory? Will Najee Harris rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie season? Get the latest Steelers scoop from Bryan DeArdo, our local expert who’s on the ground in Pittsburgh. Download the CBS Sports app and get the latest news, insights, and surprising predictions from our team of expertsIf you already have the app, favorite the Steelers to get up-to-the-second news.




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