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—some already decided, some not.
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 was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
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: Will any of the wide receivers currently on the roster ever receive a big second contract from the Steelers?
Especially with Minkah Fitzpatrick out of the way, one of the biggest topics that has surrounded discussion of the Steelers in recent weeks has been about the future of Diontae Johnson, the 2019 third-round draft pick, and whether that future is in Pittsburgh.
The 2021 Pro Bowler is entering the final season of his rookie contract, and is also clearly the team’s number one receiver, yet there haven’t been any obvious indications that the front office intends to re-sign him to a long-term contract extension—or at least that they feel they realistically can within their budget.
The broad consensus, at least among fans, is that Johnson isn’t quite worth what the suddenly-ballooning wide receiver market is paying, which would probably cost the Steelers at least $20 million per season at this point. He is not quite ‘that guy’ to commit to, they say.
But is Chase Claypool? Is George Pickens? The last wide receiver to get a big long-term extension from the Steelers is Antonio Brown, and he was drafted in 2010—and has been off the roster since 2019. So is the team’s next long-term wide receiver presence even on the roster yet, or are we still going to have to wait?
Obviously, this question is unanswerable with fact, so instead we must speculate. Many might think that Pickens is the guy the team finally commits to, but nobody has seen him play much in a while—and he hasn’t played professionally yet at all.