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Free Agency Tracker | 2022

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How Might Washington Change This WR Corps?


FRISCO, Texas – If his own answers are any indicator, James Washington is giving you some insight into what the Dallas Cowboys want from their new-look receiver corps.

Asked what he can bring to this offense after coming over from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, the Cowboys' newest wide out put it plainly.

"I think I can bring physicality," he said. "Michael Gallup, CeeDee, all those guys show a lot of physical ability right now, but I just feel like I can add to it."

He isn't wrong. At roughly 5'11, 213 pounds, Washington brings a sturdy frame to an offense that would probably like to increase that level of physicality. To Washington's point, Michael Gallup has long been the Cowboys' contested pass catcher, while CeeDee Lamb boasts impressive run-after-catch ability.

If Washington can add to that, it could provide the Dallas with a hard-nosed element as it seeks to rebrand itself in the wake of the decision to trade Amari Cooper to Cleveland.

"I want to be that down-the-field threat, I want to be that physical guy, I want to get involved in the run game," he said.

There's room for clarity there, though. Washington does have a similar build to Deebo Samuel, who took the NFL by storm last season by toting the rock 59 times for 365 yards and eight touchdowns. And while offensive coordinator Kellen Moore isn't likely to divulge his plans for 2022 any time soon, Washington didn't seem to think that sort of role was in his future.

Even still, the Cowboys' offense was at its best last season when the run game was humming, and Washington thinks he can help with that.

"I'm talking blocking," he laughed. "I'll let Zeke and Tony do all that, because that's what they do best. But I feel like I'm a receiver that, I don't mind blocking for those guys because they block for us on passes. I definitely don't mind blocking for them."

That's likely music to this front office's ears, as they seek to revamp that rushing attack that petered out so woefully in the second half of the 2022 season.

Of course, that's only one element of it, as they'll also need to maintain the explosiveness that made them one of the more dynamic passing attacks in the league during Cooper's time here. Washington thinks that's also something he can help provide.

"My strength is that when the ball's in the air, I'm going to lay out for it, I'm going to give everything I've got to try to come down with that ball for the team and move the chains," he said. "And just work ethic, you know? I'm going to work my butt off and do what I need to do to earn respect from those guys."

Washington was originally the Steelers' 60th overall pick back in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was also heavily courted by the Cowboys, who would eventually select Gallup 81st overall in the same class.

Additions like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in Pittsburgh would eventually push Washington down the depth chart, limiting his impact. But in buying low, the Cowboys are hoping they can re-produce his 2019 effort, which saw him average 16.8 yards per catch en route to a 735-yard season.

Having signed for just one year, Washington is undoubtedly hoping the same.

"I feel like, with everything that transpired in Pittsburgh, I didn't really get to show my full self," he said. "We had a crowded room at receiver. Nothing against anyone else, but I just felt 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."

Questions remain. Namely, are the Cowboys done addressing the receiver corps? Re-signing Gallup to pair with Lamb is the headlining move, and they did bring back Noah Brown to fill out the depth chart with Simi Fehoko. As it stands right now, Washington looks like the team's third receiver, but it's not hard to imagine them spending a draft pick on some competition for that spot.

That part is out of Washington's control. As far as the part that isn't? He'll be ready.

"I'm going to take full advantage of this opportunity in Dallas and do what I can so that they get 110% of me," he said.

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