Diontae Johnson claims that he wants to be in Pittsburgh, but here’s why he believes the Steelers need to pay him what he’s seeking on a new deal.
And so it begins. Just before the first Steelers training camp practice kicked off, the media caught up with top wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, to talk about expectations for the upcoming season.
As you can imagine, questions about his possible contract extension were brought up. Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and has a base salary of just $2.79 million for the 2022 season, according to Over the Cap. He has made it very clear that he wants to be paid, now he has reiterated those comments just before training camp starts.
Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan caught up with Johnson this morning asking him about his future with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Johnson’s response was quick and to the point:
Johnson claims that he wants to ‘be here long term,’ but noted that it really isn’t his decision at this point. Rather, ‘that’s up to them.’
The ‘them’ Johnson is referring to is obviously the Pittsburgh Steelers. While new general manager was quick to pull the trigger on a long-term contract extension for Minkah Fitzpatrick, a new deal for Diontae Johnson has not yet come… and we aren’t sure if it will.
Johnson is waiting on the Steelers
During the 2022 offseason, the wide receiver market was once again reset as players like Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, and Stefon Diggs broke the bank. Even Christian Kirk — who didn’t record a single 1,000-yard season in his first four years and plays primarily from the slot — earned $18 million annually on his new contract from the Jaguars.
Johnson’s agent knows his value in this inflated market, and they are not going to settle for anything less. His best arguing point is the new deal that the Commanders gave Terry McLaurin. Both Johnson and McLaurin are former third-round picks from the 2019 NFL Draft and have put up remarkably similar numbers through their first three seasons.
Johnson’s latest statements to the media make it clear that the ball is back in Khan’s corner. The Steelers front office has a very good idea of what it would take to retain him at this point, and they are probably weighing whether or not they can make it happen (or if they should).
Some have speculated that Johnson would essentially ‘hold-in’ for a new deal — much like T.J. Watt did during Steelers training camp last year. That appears to be the case. During his first practice on July 27th, Johnson did not participate in team drills. Instead, he was on the sidelines working with a personal coach.
With most of the other receivers from his 2019 draft class already breaking the bank, I can’t blame Diontae Johnson for wanting his new deal. A serious injury could cost him millions, so it will be interesting to see how hard Pittsburgh’s top receiver plays during Steelers training camp.