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Role Call: A Fresh Start For James Washington


(Editor's Note: The offseason program is in full swing, and it's no longer too early to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series begins today with wide receiver James Washington.)

How he got here: The 26-year-old Stamford, Texas, product was the Cowboys' only addition of note on offense prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Fittingly, the Cowboys had a high opinion of Washington coming out of Oklahoma State in the 2018 draft cycle. They ultimately used their second-round pick on Connor Williams, while Washington was eventually drafted 60th overall by Pittsburgh. The Cowboys would wound up addressing their receiver need by drafting Michael Gallup with the 81st overall pick. Four years later, the two are now teammates. Following the decision to trade Amari Cooper, the Cowboys brought in Washington on a one-year deal worth roughly $1.1 million to address the hole in their receiver depth chart.

What's next: This is a classic case of the Cowboys hoping to buy low and sell high. Washington was talented enough to go in the Top 100 of that 2018 draft, and he has 1,629 career receiving yards, highlighted by a 44-catch, 735-yard effort in 2019. It's fair to say Washington didn't live up to the expectations in Pittsburgh – but there are some within the Cowboys' facility who wonder if he was truly given the chance to do so. He should have plenty of opportunity here. Michael Gallup is still recovering from the ACL tear he suffered in January, and Jalen Tolbert is a newly-drafted rookie. With CeeDee Lamb the only proven commodity currently in the starting lineup, Washington has a huge chance to re-vitalize his career as one of the Cowboys' primary receiver options this season.

Bet you didn't know: Washington won the 2017 Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the most outstanding receiver in college football, off the strength of a 1,549-yard, 13-touchdown season at Oklahoma State. That makes him the fourth Biletnikoff winner to play for the Cowboys in the award's 28-year history, along with Amari Cooper, Antonio Bryant and Terry Glenn.

Quotable: "The whole vibe of James and the way he presents himself and just the reputation that he left in Pittsburgh has been very impressive. I'm excited for him. I'm excited not only for what he does, helps our receiver room and offensively, but I'm excited for him that he's at that point in his career where he feels like he can take a big step, and I think he'll definitely have that opportunity here." – Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy

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