Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson will be getting a raise in 2022 thanks to the former third round draft pick out of Toledo qualifying for a Proven Performance Escalator. While we have known for a while that Johnson had qualified for the escalator, we didn’t know exactly what level he would attain. With the 2021 season now over with, we now know the level, and the likely pay raise amount for Johnson.
In the league’s CBA, the Proven Performance Escalator is now a three-level, non-negotiable amount in which a player’s base salary in the fourth year of his rookie contract increases if he meets certain predetermined thresholds.
As the CBA notes, a player selected in the second through seventh rounds qualifies for the Level Two PPE if he participates in 55 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive plays in each of his first three regular seasons. As expected, Johnson easily hit those playtime percentages. The amount of the Level Two PPE is the difference of the original-round tender in the player’s fourth season and his Year 4 rookie salary (minus any signing bonus prorations), plus $250,000. This amount is then added to the player’s year-four base salary.
So, what does this mean for Johnson? Well, his 2022 salary will now increase from the scheduled amount of $1,078,767 up to the amount of an original-round tender for restricted free agents, which right now is projected to be $2.433 million by Over the Cap, plus an additional $250,000, for an early estimated total of $2.683 million. So, a projected increase of $1,604,233 in 2022 for Johnson. Once again, that extra increase, does go against the Steelers salary cap, as well.
Johnson obviously wasn’t happy that he failed to make the Pro Bowl this season. In fact, him not making the Pro Bowl cost him some additional money in 2022.
With Johnson now set to get at least a meager raise, an even bigger raise could be in his future as well as he will likely be looking to sign a contract extension during the offseason. He talked about that possibility on Monday, a day after the Steelers’ road playoff loss to the Kanas City Chiefs.
“That would be a blessing to get an extension,” Johnson said. “Just all the hard work I put in over the past three seasons now. But, like if I can get an extension, I’m going to be excited. I want to be in Pittsburgh, you know, for the rest of my career. But I’m just going to see what happens right now.”
One would think that Johnson will be looking to get top 15 wide receiver money, at a minimum, during the offseason. Currently, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is the 15th-highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL with a new money average of $15.75 million. Will the Steelers value Johnson at that $15.75 million amount or more during the offseason? We shall see. If Johnson does ultimately sign a contract extension during the offseason, odds are good that a consummated deal would not happen until after the team reports to training camp.