Hay Fever: James Washington, Gentleman Farmer, Ready to Bloom with Cowboys

James Washington had to postpone his initial meeting with the Dallas media following his signing with the Dallas Cowboys.


“I got a load of hay unexpectedly on the ranch, so I missed you guys,” he said. “I want to apologize for that.”


Yes, Washington – with an incredibly successful college career as a Cowboy at Oklahoma State and now signed up to be a Cowboy in Dallas – is actually …

A cowboy. Or a farmer and rancher, anyway.

Washington spent four seasons in Pittsburgh trying to replicate his OSU game there. It never really happened. He had moments that mirrored his productivity at Oklahoma State, but he never really flourished.

Washington is once again a Cowboy. The Texas native, who owns a ranch not far outside of Dallas, inked a one-year deal with the Cowboys earlier this month. The former Biletnikoff Award winner is ready to showcase his abilities once again.

“I feel like with everything that transpired at Pittsburgh, I didn’t really get to show my full self,” Washington said. “We had a crowded room at receiver. But nothing against anyone else, I feel 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.”

Washington at the ranch

“I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity in Dallas,” he said. “Do what I can so that they get 110 percent of me and I can reach my full potential.”

Washington spent his rookie season in Pittsburgh playing behind All-Pro Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ team MVP that year. He also competed for playing time with former Cowboys receiver Ryan Switzer, who seemed to develop instant chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Washington finished the season with just 16 catches on 38 targets, 216 yards, and one touchdown.

His sophomore campaign looked better, as Brown was out of the lineup, and his former college teammate Mason Rudolph started half of Pittsburgh’s games. Washington registered 735 yards on 44 receptions and three scores.

But in 2020, his production fell off again as he struggled for playing time behind Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool, and played less than 50 percent of the offensive snaps in the final seven games of the season.

WR James Washington 

Washington’s first time around as a Cowboy, at Oklahoma State, he caught 226 passes for 4,472 yards and 39 touchdowns in four seasons. That’s how he sees himself performing this season as he’s once again a Cowboy, returning to his home state – and nearer his family ranch in Merkel.

“I want to grow my game to be who I was in college because I feel like who I was in college is who I’m meant to be,” Washington said. “I want to be that downfield threat, that physical guy, get involved in the run game. I want to do everything.”

Cowboys fans can only wait and see. James Washington’s time to harvest is coming. Right after he gets done with the hay.