Steelers get a bargain in WR Diontae Johnson contract extension

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally signed wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, to a contract extension. Here’s why his numbers are so team-friendly. 

I think we all owe general manager Omar Khan an apology. After immediately striking a deal to extend Minkah Fitzpatrick’s contract, Khan gambled against an inflated wide receiver market to get something done with Steelers top receiver, Diontae Johnson.

Each week it seemed like a different receiver from the 2019 draft class was signing for absurd new money averages. The latest to do so were DK Metcalf and Deebo Samuel — who each have a new money average that comes in over $23.8M per season.

This afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Diontae Johnson and the Pittsburgh Steelers had come to terms on a contract extension. The outcome was better than anyone could have possibly expected. Schefter reports that Johnson has signed a two-year deal worth up to $39.5 million with $27 million guaranteed.

Johnson’s new money average comes it at $18.355 million — a number that was well under what most predicted. Throughout this process, Spotrac.com projected Johnson’s new money would come in at $21.5M-$22.0M per season. It looks like Pittsburgh is getting a discount on their top wide receiver.

Despite falling well short of the per-year numbers of players like DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin, Johnson’s statistical production has been on par with nearly anyone from the 2019 draft class, via Pro Football Reference.

Steelers get a good deal… but there’s a catch

There is one stipulation to this deal, however. Diontae Johnson has signed just a two-year extension — shorter than each of the high-profile receivers who signed contracts during the 2022 offseason. This means that he will be eligible to hit the market at least a year sooner.

Diontae Johnson appears to be betting on himself. Though it appears he settled for less than he was projected to make, he will hit the free-agent market sooner when the annual going rate for wide receivers is projected to be even higher.

Johnson will have to prove over the next few seasons that he is the legit WR1 in Pittsburgh in order to make it to a third deal.

Johnson becomes the first Steelers wide receiver to earn a second contract with the team since Antonio Brown did roughly a decade ago. Pittsburgh has to be pretty pleased with the way things have worked out. Hopefully, Johnson will continue to build on his 2021 campaign and show Steelers fans why the team made a good decision.