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Schultz: No Deal Imminent For Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, ‘But A Deal Will Get Done’

Through three full practices of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, much of the talk coming out of the first three seasons for the 2022 version of the black and gold has centered around the quarterback competition, the developing young receivers, an offensive line battle, and some post-play skirmishes overall.

Maybe the most talked about thing coming out of training camp to date though has been the “hold-in” of standout wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who has not participated in team drills through three days at Chuck Noll Field, though he has worked in individual drills with receivers through the first three days.

Entering his final season under contract in the black and gold, Johnson is hoping to land a market-value extension with the Steelers at the wide receiver position, especially after the position’s market exploded this offseason with the deals for names like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Terry McLaurin, and most recently, DK Metcalf.

With no deal in place at this time, Johnson is taking a similar approach to Steelers’ star linebacker T.J. Watt from last summer’s training camp in which Watt conducted a “hold-in” throughout camp at then-Heinz Field, doing individual work on the side and getting his cardio in until he signed a record-setting deal becoming the highest-paid defender in the NFL.

Johnson certainly isn’t looking to become the highest paid receiver in the NFL, but he is looking for a sizable raise to have him paid as a star receiver and legitimate No. 1 option like he has been for three seasons in the NFL. Following the extension Metcalf signed on Thursday, all the attention at the receiver position — as far as an extension goes — has shifted to Latrobe and Johnson.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show Friday, NFL insider Jordan Schultz stated that while no deal appears imminent between the Steelers and Johnson, he does believe a deal will get done for the two parties, keeping Johnson in the Steel City long term.

“I’ll start with DJ [Diontae Johnson] because he had a really good year last year, fellas. He was one of the most targeted receivers in the league, his numbers were outstanding,” Schultz said, according to video via The Pat McAfee Show. “I talked to Omar Khan, their new GM, about him [Johnson], not super recently but in the past. They love Diontae Johnson. He’s a star; a number one receiver.

“As far as getting a deal done right now or imminently? I don’t see that with him, but it will get done.”

That’s certainly some positive news overall regarding Johnson, who has become an exceptionally important piece to a rebuilt Steelers’ offense overall. During the 2021 season, Johnson hauled in a career-high 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, truly inserting himself into the upper echelon of receivers in the NFL today.

Now, with Ben Roethlisberger retired, Johnson will try to build off of his breakout season with the likes of Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or Kenny Pickett under center, while doing so in a contract year.

That can be a tall task for any receiver, but Johnson is an elite-level route runner that creates great separation and often finds himself open. Though he’s struggled with drops in the past, he’s a high-volume target that produces at a consistently high level. The Steelers would be wise to extend him, truly turning the wide receiver room into a major strength in the years to come with Chase Claypool and rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III on the roster.

Though Schultz is the only one really stating currently that a deal will get done, 102.5 WDVE’s Mike Prisuta dropped a bit of a hint Friday night following the third practice of training camp, posting a photo of Johnson signing autographs after practice. Prisuta, who also works for Steelers.com, added with the tweet that he’s starting to get the feeling Johnson will be signing something else sooner or later.

That’d be great news for the Steelers and would get their star receiver back on the field and in the mix offensively.

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