Steelers WR Diontae Johnson will blend well in Matt Canada's offense this season

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Production results in job security in the NFL. If a franchise can rely on a player consistently, they tend to have less of a problem keeping him on the roster. Owners throughout the league swear by the "what have you done for me lately" mantra - leaving little room for athletes to slip up under contract. An unproductive season could lead to relocation, despite the success that came before an unexpected drought. This culture exists in the Steelers franchise, causing concerns regarding Diontae Johnson's future.

Matt Canada and his collogues faced a difficult task last season. Their season goals included developing a rookie quarterback and hoping to create a dominant offense. In 2021, Pittsburgh ranked 23rd in yards per game (315.4) - led by a mid-tier passing attack. Ben Roethlisberger struggled to convince fans that he could make explosive plays downfield. Chase Claypool and James Washington led their teammates in average yards per catch, but Diontae Johnson proved he was Pittsburgh's primary receiver. He finished the season with eight touchdowns and 173 targets - second most in the NFL.

Steelers will benefit from keeping Diontae Johnson on the roster

A quarterback change caused Pittsburgh's offense to experience additional hiccups in 2022. Inconsistencies in Mitchell Trubisky's performances prevented skill players from developing chemistry. On Oct 4, Mike Tomlin announced his staff's decision to start their rookie quarterback heading into an AFC matchup against the Buffalo Bills. It took time for Pickett to adjust to a new game speed - resulting in tough losses against the Eagles and Dolphins.

Experience under center helped No.8 develop enough confidence to finish the season strong. He found comfort in completing safe passes - resulting in more receptions for his tight ends and running backs. A connection with George Pickens helped Pickett develop his deep ball accuracy. Pickens led the Steelers in touchdown receptions (4) followed by Najee Harris (3) and Pat Freiermuth (2).

Completing touchdown passes to Pittsburgh's No.1 receiver seemed impossible for Pickett last season. Diontae Johnson led the team in receptions (86), targets (147), and receiving yards (882), but failed to find the endzone. His stat line is noteworthy, and his presence on the field did not feel the same as in previous seasons. Defenses adjusted to limit his production - forcing Canada's offense to find other means of contributing to the scoreboard. Trade with the Bears shipped Chase Claypool - making Johnson the veteran receiver on a young Steelers receiving core.

Steelers' new depth will help Matt Canada's offense escape the multi-year slump

There's still for improvement, and the Steelers need all weapons available. A disappointing end to the 2022 season left an unpleasant taste in the mouths of Steelers fans accustomed to winning traditions. They combed over the film, highlighting George Pickens and Kenny Pickett. Mixed reviews of Diontae Johnson's performance gave a berth to trade rumors.

On Wednesday, Andre Filliponi of 93.7 the Fan discussed the possibility of Pittsburgh trading away their most productive receiver. The franchise has received calls after solidifying Allen Robinson's deal. Collateral for Johnson could equate to draft capital, and the Steelers have additional needs to fill on the roster. Analysts believe the franchise will target an offensive lineman or a cornerback, and a pick could help.

A divorce with Diontae Johnson does not make sense, considering Pittsburgh's projections. Acquiring Allen Robinson will help Kenny Pickett develop his middle and deep passes - opening the field for runs and underneath routes. If Matt Canada uses No.18 as a slot receiver, it will create mismatches against slower linebackers. George Pickens proved he is a threat and an all-purpose receiver.

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Pittsburgh will see success in the future, but they must build with their current roster. Their quarterback needed time to adjust as a rookie and looks primed to perform well this season. A revival of the rushing attack and additions at the receiver position will keep fans optimistic about a promising season.