The Steelers would be fools to not extend Diontae Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

While projected contract numbers for him are just rumors, the Steelers would be really wise to lock up their top receiver if true.

Reports surfaced a few weeks ago that Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson was reportedly looking to get an extension with the team that paid him 75 million dollars over five years. While there has been no concrete confirmation of said rumors, the team would be foolish to not offer Johnson a deal like that. Anyone saying that he isn’t worth it is completely misinformed of just how good of a deal that is in today’s NFL.

That 15 million dollars a season would, as of today, make Johnson the 16th highest-paid receiver. He would be mixed in with the likes of Jarvis Landry, Robby Anderson, and Courtland Sutton. While each of those receivers is talented in their own right, one could easily argue that Johnson is better than each of those players.

More important is the fact Johnson wants that money on a longer-term deal. Five years is typically the longest a new deal would go, meaning that Johnson is willing to lock himself up for an extended period of time at that price. Realistically, if that deal were to be signed and completely played out, Johnson would be closer to the 25-30 range due to other receivers that would land bigger deals in the future.

Should the Steelers extend Johnson?

That is the ultimate question right now. I personally have said that behind Minkah Fitzpatrick, Johnson is the player most deserving and in need of a new deal. He is an extremely talented receiver who runs sharp routes and makes big plays after the catch. As well, he is a perfect fit in the X position, something they don’t have elsewhere on this roster and is typically harder to find in the draft.

His flaws are obvious, and when apparent they are game-altering. He has suffered some major drop issues that have drawn the ire of the fanbase. That said, he made some huge strides in his third season. For the first 2/3 of the season, Johnson was catching everything in sight and was key n this offense staying comparative. He showed a healthy amount of growth as a player.

Towards the end of the season, he did suffer from some inconsistencies once again, but he was only credited with five total drops on the season. Considering how often he is targeted, that equates to a three percent drop rate to targets. That is a fine number when compared to the rest of the league and a huge improvement from the nine and a half percent he had in 2020.

All in all, 15 million a season for an ascending top target and a player that has worked hard to fix his flaws is well worth it. Had he wanted closer to 20 million and top five money, this conversation would be different. Realistically, anything below 16.5 million (top ten money) would be a fair deal for Johnson.

5 positions Steelers must rebuild from the ground up in 2022. light. Must Read

While you may not consider Johnson a top ten or fifteen receiver right now, he still has room to grow into that spot. As well, other contracts (like ones to Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson) will likely pass him up, making his deal an even better value. Johnson still has work to do, but signing him to a reasonable extension this offseason is a no-brainer move.