The Pittsburgh Steelers signed David Johnson to a one-year contract on Tuesday and that now means the former seventh-round draft pick out of Arkansas State should be able to make a legitimate run at a roster spot this summer.
So, why did the Steelers wait so long to sign David Johnson, who has been looking for a new team since the start of the new league year? For starters, the Steelers had time to get a good look at a few rookie undrafted free agent tight ends during their recent rookie minicamp before looking at experienced free agents. On top of that, by signing David Johnson after May 12th now ensures that transaction will not factor into the compensatory draft pick formula for 2017.
Now, while Johnson is far from a lock to make the Steelers 53-man roster this year, his ability to play fullback, h-back and tight end will provide the team with an experienced player who can push several other players who are already on the roster during training camp and the preseason.
Remember, the Steelers carried three true tight ends last season in addition to fullback Roosevelt Nix and the multi-purpose Will Johnson, a younger version of David Johnson. Both of those players also contributed heavily on special teams in the games that they dressed for as well. Nix, however, was lost late in the season to a foot injury.
While details of the one-year contract that David Johnson signed are not yet known, it’s a good bet his deal will total out at $885,000 and carry a salary cap charge of $600,000, if he wasn’t given a signing bonus. Even if he was given a signing bonus, I can almost guarantee you that it won’t exceed $80,000 so that the deal can qualify for the Minimum Salary Benefit clause in the CBA.
Unless you were a huge fan of undrafted rookie free agent tight end David Reeves, the former Duke player who the Steelers waived to make room on their 90-man roster for David Johnson, it’s hard to find anything negative related to this Tuesday transaction.