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Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Exit Interviews: Ray-Ray McCloud and Diontae Johnson

The Steelers are quite thin at wide receiver in regards to players under contract for 2022.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up is wide receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Diontae Johnson.

Ray-Ray McCloud

NFL: JAN 16 AFC Wild Card - Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free agent
Contract Details: Coming off a one-year, $1 million deal which carries no dead money.
Games played in 2021: 16 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 5 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 538 (offense), 161 (special teams)
PFF score: 58.0 (102nd of 118)
Notable stats (regular season): McCloud had 39 receptions on 66 targets for 277 receiving yards; two rushes for 15 yards; 38 punt returns for 367 yards; 35 kickoff returns for 776 yards

Notes: As much as some like to complain about McCloud's return ability, he led the NFL in punt return yards in 2021. While some also had questions as to why McCloud was targeted so much in the Steelers passing game, it mostly came after the injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster. If the Steelers could sign McCloud again for 2022 for a similar price tag as they did last season, it would be beneficial to not have to worry about the kick return position and have some depth at receiver.

Diontae Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Position: Wide receiver
Years with the Steelers: 3
Years in the NFL: 3
Contract Status: Signed through 2022
Contract Details: $3,073,357 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers $283,357 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 16 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 14 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 988 (offense), 3 (special teams)
PFF score: 73.2 (34th of 118)
Notable stats (regular season): Johnson had 107 receptions on 169 targets for 1,161 receiving yards and eight touchdowns; five rushes for 53 rushing yards.

Notes: Earning his first Pro Bowl selection of his career, Johnson was criticized by many Steelers fans at the end of the season as not being reliable. With drops not being an official NFL statistic, various sources have different standards for what they qualify as a drop. According to PFF, Diontae Johnson had eight drops in 2021 including the postseason, but five of them came from Week 17 on. So as reliable as Johnson was throughout the season, the dropped passes came back to haunt him down the stretch. Going into his final season of his rookie contract, it will be interesting to see if the Steelers look to make a deal with Johnson before 2022 kicks off or if they simply play out his contract and see what next offseason holds.

So what do you think? How would you conduct McCloud’s and Johnson’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Ben Roethlisberger & Najee Harris
Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner & Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor & Dan Moore Jr.
Robert Spillane & Buddy Johnson
Montravius Adams & Isaiahh Loudermilk
Joe Haden & Tre Norwood
Christian Kuntz & Pressley Harvin
JuJu Smith-Schuster & Cody White
J.C. Hassenauer & John Leglue
Marcus Allen & Tegray Scales
James Washington & Chase Claypool
Taco Charlton & Alex Highsmith
Ahkello Witherspoon & James Pierre
B.J. Finney & Kevin Dotson
Kalen Ballage & Anthony McFarland
Stephon Tuitt & Carlos Davis