When Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) rolled around, there were several storylines fans were excited to keep tabs on. One of those was whether Diontae Johnson showed up or not. In Week 1 Johnson was a no-show, but in Week 2 he made an appearance after his absence made headlines the previous week.
At the time he showed up Johnson told reporters he will talk to them “next week”, meaning the start of mandatory minicamp. Tuesday was the first day of minicamp and Johnson spoke to the media after their workout at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Johnson admitted he wants a new deal, and he would love to get a new contract before the start of the regular season. This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Diontae Johnson just met with the media and said he plans to practice with the team although he is hoping to get a new contract before the start of the season.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 7, 2022
Johnson continued when talking to the media, and admitted he can only control what he can control. He admitted he will let his agent do the negotiating, so he can focus on football heading into the final year of his rookie contract.
This per 93.7 The Fan:
Diontae Johnson-"at the end of the day I can only move forward and control what I can control. I want to be here, I’m patient. I’m just going to keep working. My agent is going to do what he do with that situation. I’m not trying to focus on that.”— 93.7 The Fan (@937theFan) June 7, 2022
Johnson, knowing the increased market at the wide receiver position, insisted he isn’t worried about contract talks. He admitted he wants a new deal, but if it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. His focus is on-field production.
Diontae Johnson asked if he's concerned about the contract-"I’m not worried about it right now. If the contract comes this year, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not worried. I’m just ready to play football and be a Steeler.”— 93.7 The Fan (@937theFan) June 7, 2022
The Steelers have two main players who are looking for new contracts. Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Both are in contract years with the team, and most would say Fitzpatrick is the priority for the team this offseason.
It isn’t as if Johnson isn’t worthy of a new contract, keeping him in Pittsburgh for the long term, but due to the inflated salaries of receivers you have to wonder if the Steelers would elect to pay him over others on the current roster.
One big factor regarding Johnson’s future with the Steelers is the fact Ben Roethlisberger under center. Johnson became Roethlisberger’s favorite target the past two seasons, and he saw a lot of targets throughout that time. With a new quarterback at the helm, will these targets continue? Will it depend who wins the job between Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett?
The Steelers have some cap space available, roughly $20 million dollars, after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt, and it make you wonder how they plan to utilize this cap space before the start of the regular season.
When it comes to the fan base, there are plenty who feel Johnson is more than deserving of a new contract, and the team locking him up before the season could save them money in the long term. On the flip side of this debate is the fact many believe he isn’t worth that inflated contract and the team would be better off letting him walk in free agency and focusing on the other receivers who would still be under contract following the 2022 season.
What do you think about the Johnson contract situation? If you were Omar Khan, would you give him a new deal before 2022? Wait until after the 2022 season to negotiate? Or would you not even entertain the thought of giving him a new contract? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of mandatory minicamp this week.