Steelers trade WR Diontae Johnson to the Panthers for a veteran cornerback

Dionate Johnson is headed to Carolina. Here's what Pittsburgh received and what it means for the Steelers in 2024.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

After months of speculation as to whether or not Diontae Johnson would get moved during the 2024 offseason, we now have our answer. The Pittsburgh Steelers are trading Johnson to the Carolina Panthers.

In the deal, the Steelers will receive veteran cornerback, Donte Jackson. Pittsburgh will also get a 6th-round pick in exchange for a 7th-round pick from Carolina, Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team reports.

The Steelers seemed adamant to move on from Johnson. Just days earlier, a rumor surfaced that Pittsburgh was listening to offers for the veteran receiver.

During the 2023 season, Johnson's lack of effort as a blocker was questioned by the media at times. There were also plenty of questions about how he would fit into Arthur Smith's new-look offense, as he requires his receivers to be able to block.

Johnson leaves the Steelers after five seasons. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, the former 2019 third-round pick racked up 391 receptions on 639 targets for 4,363 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. Johnson was the team's most productive wide receiver over the past five seasons, and he was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2021 when he recorded 107 catches, 1,161 yards, and 8 touchdowns.

Steelers receive CB Donte Jackson in the Diontae Johnson trade

Joining the Steelers is Donte Jackson -- a speedy cornerback who was a former second-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2018. Jackson has started 76 of 80 games that he has been available for for the Panthers. Over the past six years, he has recorded 248 tackles, 46 passes defended, and 14 interceptions.

Despite his 5'10 1/2'', 178-pound frame, Jackson has been an outside cornerback for Carolina. In 2023, he played 811 snaps out wide and just 5 snaps from the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.

Jackson's best trait is his elite speed. At the NFL Combine, the former LSU cornerback blazed with an official 4.32 in the 40-yard dash.

With this trade, the Steelers will also increase their Day 3 draft capital in the pick-swap deal -- claiming Carolina's 6th-round pick while swapping their 7th-rounder to the Panthers.

While it's too early to declare a winner in this trade, Steelers fans hoped Pittsburgh could have received more in a Diontae Johnson trade. Jackson has had an up-and-down career for the Panthers and he turns 29 years old during the 2024 season.

Fortunately, Jackson's presence will at least give the Steelers much-needed depth at the cornerback position. However, there is suddenly a major hole at wide receiver outside of George Pickens. Pittsburgh met with some early-round receivers at the NFL Combine, and following this trade, it looks like a cornerback could be in play for Pittsburgh as early as Round 1.

Johnson wasn't going to be part of the future plan, so it was either the Steelers keep him on a one-year rental for the 2024 season or try to get something from him in a trade. Pittsburgh chose the latter. Let's hope this trade works in their favor.