After signing Russell Wilson, a Diontae Johnson trade makes no sense

The Steelers are geared up to try and win now after signing Russell Wilson, and trading away Diontae Johnson would not match that agenda.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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The biggest news around Pittsburgh this week is without a doubt the Steelers signing Russell Wilson to a one-year deal. While many have speculated that Wilson will not be guaranteed the starting job, it would be shocking if he did not win it during training camp.

Opinions on the Wilson trade aside, the move signifies that the team is still looking to win now, which may impact how they operate this offseason. While this will impact how they draft and address free agency, one thing it should affect is their willingness to trade Diontae Johnson.

Trading Diontae Johnson now makes no sense

The Steelers enter free agency needing to add to the wide receiver position due to how thin their depth chart is. Diontae Johnson and George Pickens are a nice duo, however after them, the depth chart becomes scarce. Calvin Austin is a good gadget player but lacks the size and frame to be a true slot option for the Steelers.

The Steelers need to be adding to this room this offseason, not subtracting from it. Johnson is entering the final year of his contract, but is at a very reasonable price, given how much the top-end players are making. While he has his faults as a receiver, and there are concerns with his attitude, there are very few wide receivers who don't have those questions.

In the modern NFL, the majority of wide receivers have diva tendencies, and while this is not something I want in a receiver, it is the reality. Johnson may not seem as bad compared to how many other receivers have carried themselves.

He is an extremely talented wide receiver, who is a master at creating separation. He would be a huge asset to Russell Wilson and the Steelers' offense in 2024. The Steelers should look to bring in a veteran in the slot, such as Tyler Boyd, Curtis Samuel, or K.J. Osborn, but also should spend a mid-round pick on a receiver as depth and a piece to potentially replace Johnson if he walks as a free agent next offseason.

The Jerry Jeudy trade gives the framework of what a Johnson trade might look like

Just before free agency the Cleveland Browns traded a fifth and a sixth-round draft choice to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Jerry Jeudy. While Jeudy has not lived up to his first-round draft capital, he has been a solid receiver at the NFL level and has shown flashes of the player the Broncos expected him to be when he was drafted.

Jeudy and Johnson are very similar receivers, and their numbers in the past two seasons have been strikingly similar. However, the Steelers clearly believe Jeudy had a better quarterback throwing to him since they just signed Wilson.

Because both are on expiring contracts and the similarities they have had in production, the framework of the Jeudy deal appears to be what one should expect Johnson would fetch in a trade. If that is the return there is no way the Steelers should even be entertaining moving Johnson, as it would take a lot more than that to move him in my eyes.

Johnson is a productive receiver, with a reasonable salary, the Steelers would be foolish to move him for any less than a day 2 pick, and even then, it would depend on the offer. This is not to say there's no trade they should accept for him, but they should not be looking to move him at this point. Signing Wilson means that the Steelers want to win now, so trading Johnson for anything less than a day-two pick that can help the team win now would completely contradict that move.

It's uncertain if Johnson wants out and that's why the team has been listening to offers, if they want to move him, or if they are just gauging what they could get for him. However, one thing is clear, after signing Wilson, and likely giving up on Pickett, the team better make sure they make moves accordingly.

Signing a 35-year-old quarterback, and not making proper moves to coincide with that move would be malpractice by the Steelers.

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