The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: What would it take to get Diontae Johnson signed to a long-term extension this offseason?
A lot can happen between now and September, when the 2022 regular season gets underway. The sweet spot for contract extensions tends to be during training camp, so this is certainly a question for the future, but there are certain parameters that can be discussed now.
The Steelers always like to at least try to get any foundational players entering the final year of their contract signed to extensions before the start of the regular season starts, if they are player whom they intend to retain beyond the current season.
Presumably, Diontae Johnson is a player they would like to keep around for a while. Presumably, they will have contract talks with his agent this summer. But what would be the price tag it would cost for Johnson to be willing to pass up unrestricted free agency next March?
While Pittsburgh possesses the threat of the franchise tag, I don’t think there is any doubt that Johnson and his representatives see his price range as being firmly in that tier below the upper crust. I’m sure he doesn’t expect to hit $30 million per year, but is he expecting at least $20 million per year?
I think that’s pretty likely, and if I were him, I probably wouldn’t sign any contract extension offer that comes in south of that. He is a Pro Bowler and he has a three-year production history in a below-average offense that hasn’t even been able to fully utilize his skills. He has warts, but so do almost all of these other wide receivers who have gotten paid. Maybe he’s not DeAndre Hopkins or Davante Adams, but it would be hard to sell me on him not being in the territory of Amari Cooper and Mike Williams, or at least seeing that value on the open market, both of whom are making $20 million per season on a market that will be softer than in 2023, when the new television contracts are expected to balloon the salary cap.