DK Metcalf deal makes situation worse for Steelers and Diontae Johnson

DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Diontae Johnson has decided to ‘hold in’ Steelers training camp. Now a lucrative new extension for DK Metcalf just made Johnson’s contract situation even worse. 

It’s safe to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers missed their best window of opportunity to sign Diontae Johnson to a contract extension. The time to do so would have been very early in the offseason — before Christian Kirk and others once again reset the WR market in free agency.

Sadly, the longer the Steelers wait on an extension, the less hopeful things seem to look when it comes to potentially getting a deal done. Many of Johnson’s fellow 2019 draftmates have already signed lucrative new deals.

I argued that Terry McLaurin’s contract will be one that Johnson’s agent uses as an arguing point when negotiating a new deal for his client. Both McLaurin and Johnson are former third-round picks with sub-par QB play and have had remarkably similar stats through their first three seasons.

Recently, one more high-profile wide receiver from the 2019 draft class signed a lucrative new deal. Seattle Seahawks receiver, DK Metcalf, just became a very rich man, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms that he has inked a three-year, $58.2 million deal with the organization.

Metcalf now becomes the 6th-highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL based on annual earnings, according to Over the Cap — tying Stefon Diggs. Metcalf’s $24.0 million per year new money average leapfrogs Terry McLaurin, who leapfrogged other receivers before him. And the cycle continues.

Chances seem slim for Johnson extension with Steelers

This is not a good sign for the Steelers chances of getting a deal done with Diontae Johnson. As more young receivers from the 2019 class are signed, Johnson’s agent is collecting additional talking points, and he knows what his worth will be in the free agent market if Pittsburgh isn’t willing to comply.

Early in Steelers training camp, Johnson has worked out individually and in positional drills, but has not been involved in any capacity in team sessions as he is ‘holding in’ for his new contract.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, currently has $14.4 million in cap space, and getting a deal done with Johnson wouldn’t be easy. The team typically likes to carry eight to ten million in cap space heading into the year in the event of injuries.

Currently, Diontae Johnson is projected to earn $21.5 million annually on his new contract, according to Spotrac.com. This is a figure that could potentially even go up as DK Metcalf’s new deal is factored in.

So far, four wide receivers from the 2019 draft class have already earned massive new extensions. A.J. Brown’s is the highest at a whopping $25 million per season. While I don’t see Johnson raking in that type of money, the number is only going to continue to go up the longer the Steelers wait.

Deebo Samuel is projected to break that bank at $24.7 million per year, via Spotrac, but it’s possible that his number comes in even higher than Brown’s deal. A new extension for Marquise Brown could also impact Johnson’s figure as well.

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The longer the Steelers wait, the less likely it seems that they will get a deal done with Diontae Johnson at all. Perhaps drafting George Pickens and Calvin Austin this year were signs that they intend to move on from their top receiver soon.