In a wild NFL offseason that’s seen several top receivers on the move, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and now potentially Deebo Samuel, one seems poised to stay with his current team. For now, anyway.
Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler provided an update on Diontae Johnson’s contract situation. Johnson appears to be angling for a long-term deal, but according to Fowler, has the intention of remaining in Pittsburgh, hopefully for the long-term.
Fowler’s commentary was tweeted out by 93.7 The Fan’s Chris Mueller.
"My understanding is that Diontae Johnson wants to be in Pittsburgh long-term. I think he's prepared to play it out…I think he sees himself as having a chance in year four to be a top guy." – @JFowlerESPN
— Chris Mueller (@ChrisMuellerPGH) April 20, 2022
“My understanding is that Diontae Johnson wants to be in Pittsburgh long-term,” Fowler said via Mueller’s tweet. “I think he’s prepared to play it out…I think he sees himself as having a chance in year four to be a top guy.”
“I’m told he’s not really panicking on this where some of these other receivers are like. He’s willing to be patient here if he needs to. Knowing that there’s benefit in betting on yourself if it has to come to that. Go out year four and become a top 10 guy, which I think he has the ability to do.”
Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract with a base salary that will pay him $2.79 million this year, far below his current value as the Steelers’ #1 receiver. However, the receiver market has heated up this summer with multiple top names getting paid, increasing the figure it’d take to lock Johnson down long-term. In order to keep him, Pittsburgh may have to pay somewhere between $18-20 million per year.
Johnson did not appear to be present for the start of offseason workouts but he doesn’t seem intent on forcing his way out of town if he doesn’t get a deal done. Any contract talks wouldn’t pick up until later in the summer and throughout training camp anyway so even if a deal gets done, it wouldn’t happen for another three months. Pittsburgh’s first order of business is locking up FS Minkah FItzpatrick and making him the highest-paid safety in football. It’s worth noting a new GM could be handling Johnson’s contract situation, too. Kevin Colbert is expected to step down as GM following the draft.
Whether or not a deal with Johnson gets done is unclear. But Johnson seems likely to remain in Pittsburgh for 2022 in the hopes of putting together a complete season. If he does, he’ll either cash in big after this year or force the Steelers to franchise tag him.