September 25, 2022


One of the biggest stories coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp was the contract situation of Diontae Johnson. While in Latrobe, Johnson has not taken part in group exercises as the Pro Bowl wideout continues to “hold out” for a new contract.

Before the team took the field Tuesday, new Steelers general manager Omar Khan addressed Johnson’s contract status during a media conference. Khan said the team has been engaged in talks with Johnson’s representatives.

“The conversations we have between Diontae and his representatives will remain between us.” Han said. “We won’t discuss it publicly, but we have.”

The fact that the Steelers have not addressed Johnson’s expiring rookie deal has led to some speculation that Johnson may not be part of the team’s long-term plans. Khan put that narrative to rest.

“We want Dionda,” Han said. “We’re excited to have Diontae as part of this team. We hope he’s a Steeler for a long time.”

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Khan echoed what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin typically says when asked about players not practicing. While he would obviously prefer to see Johnson practice with his teammates, Khan said the team is focused on evaluating the players in practice. He said Johnson’s absence has created more opportunities for the Steelers’ younger wideouts. While he didn’t mention them by name, Khan was likely referring to rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Johnson’s presence also allowed Anthony Miller, the Bears’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, a chance to show what he can do in the passing game.

“I can’t speak for Coach T,” Kahn said, “but obviously, like I mentioned, you’d like to have everybody out there training. these guys and see how they connect.”

When it comes to Johnson’s contract, the Steelers haven’t been helped by the recent boom in top receiver salaries. Five years ago, the Steelers made Antonio Brown the highest-paid wideout in league history when he signed a deal that paid him an average of $17 million a season. Now, 14 receivers make at least $20 million annually, with several wide receivers receiving hefty contracts and extensions this offseason. Johnson, who is expected to make just under $3 million this season, has a current market value that would pay him about $21.5 million annually, according to Spotrac.

“I think it’s a function of the era and the system we’re in,” Khan said of the salary increase for receivers. “It’s part of the process. I guess, regardless of position, those things will continue to grow. The CBA grows, the contracts will grow.”

One thing that is clear is that both the Steelers and Johnson want to continue their partnership beyond this season (Johnson recently said that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh long term). The question is whether Johnson will be content to play one more year on his rookie deal. Given the Steelers’ longstanding tradition of not negotiating contracts in the season, the two sides have until Sept. 5 to agree on a contract before Pittsburgh kicks things off at Cincinnati in Week 1.





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