By most measures, especially when factoring in certain limitations within his offense, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson had a strong third season this year. He finished the regular season with 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, all of them career-highs, in 16 games. The first two are team-high marks over the past three seasons, as well.
The only marks against him are his occasional blunders, which became more frequent late in the season. He avoided drops for most of the year, but finished the regular season with about five or six in the final several weeks, and then he dropped two passed on Sunday in the Wild Card Round. He also had two costly fumbles.
All of that leads to an interesting discussion about value, especially for a team whose offense is in transition, as he enters a contract year. Ordinarily, this would be the time that the Steelers would look to sign him to an extension as he goes into the final year of his rookie contract, but it’s not clear how that will play out right now, just days after their season ended.
“That would be a blessing to get an extension”, he told reporters yesterday, speaking to the media. “Just all the hard work I’ve been putting in over the past three seasons; if I can get an extension, I’m gonna be excited. I want to be in Pittsburgh for the rest of my career. But I’m gonna just see what happens right now”.
He’s not the only wide receiver this week talking about wanting to spend more time in Pittsburgh. JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is a pending free agent, said he would like to spend the next four years here, if not longer. It’s rare that the team ever has two wide receivers under significant contracts simultaneously, though.
And the Steelers need to figure out who their quarterback is. It could end up being Mason Rudolph, at least for the 2022 season, who is currently the only quarterback that they have under contract for next year.
Wide receivers, in case you were blissfully unaware, are expensive. There are currently players under contract around the NFL at the position who are averaging $15 million per season or more, including names like Adam Thielen, Robert Woods, Chris Godwin, Jarvis Landry, and Courtland Sutton. Even Nelson Agholor and Tyler Boyd average more than $10 million per season.
You can bet money that he is going to be looking to hit that $15 million mark and potentially better it. He can certainly make a strong case for himself that he is worth at least as much as a player such as Sutton, and that is the case his agent will absolutely be making—in August, most likely.