Diontae Johnson has become a valuable piece for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they’d be wise to extend him sooner rather than later.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for their defense. Wouldn’t hurt to add a little offense to the mix.
In that vein, keeping receiver Diontae Johnson around for the long haul would be a nice start, especially considering rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will need to build a relationship with his weapons.
In each of Johnson’s first three seasons, he’s seen an increase in his numbers. As a rookie in 2019, he caught 59 balls for 680 yards and five touchdowns. The following year, Johnson went for 88 receptions, 923 yards and seven scores. Then, last season, Johnson busted out with 107 catches, 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl berth.
Now, entering the final year of his rookie deal, the 26-year-old could either be extended prior or during the season, or face the prospect of hitting unrestricted free agency in the winter. For his part, Steelers general manager Omar Khan says the two sides are speaking, and he’s hoping to get Johnson under contract for the long haul, per NFL.com:
“The conversations we have with Diontae and his representatives are going to stay between us. We don’t discuss that publicly, but we have been in conversations. We want Diontae and we are excited to have Diontae a part of this team. We hope he is going to be a Steeler for a long time.”
For Pittsburgh, it should be a priority keeping Johnson around and then after this season, figuring out a way to secure the services of former Notre Dame star, Chase Claypool. Both Johnson and Claypool provide skill sets which are both dynamic and yet different, giving Pickett an opportunity to work different areas of the field.
While the defense led by edge rusher T.J. Watt and defensive end Cameron Heyward is terrific, it means little without the ability to score consistently in a league dominated by great quarterbacks and prolific talents on the perimeter.
Johnson gives the Steelers such a weapon, and allowing him to get out fo the Steel City before the expiration of a second contract would be football malpractice, provided the two sides can come to a reasonable agreement.