Diontae Johnson’s Future As A Steeler

June 12, 2022
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Diontae Johnson is entering the fourth and last year of his rookie deal. The Steelers will need to make a decision on possibly resigning him to another contract. The Steelers could make a deal during the 2022 season to save money and keep Johnson as a Steelers. If the Steelers wait until after the 2022 season, Johnson would demand more if his value goes up. But there are still concerns about locking Johnson into a long-term deal if his performance stays stagnant. The fourth year of NFL rookie contracts is when players feel the urge to improve their performance and make their value noticed.

Diontae Johnson In First Three Seasons

Year 1 (2019): 16 games; 59 receptions; 680 yards; 5 touchdowns
Year 2 (2020): 15 games; 88 receptions; 923 yards; 7 touchdowns
Year 3 (2021, PB): 16 games; 107 receptions; 1,161 yards; 8 touchdowns
Year 4 (2022)😕

Diontae Johnson improved in every major stat during his first three seasons. If the trend continues, Johnson would have even bigger numbers to speak of. Here are how recent Steelers wide receivers fared in their first four seasons:

JuJu Smith-Schuster
Year 1 (2017): 14 games; 58 receptions; 917 yards; seven touchdowns
Year 2 (2018): 16 games; 111 receptions; 1,426 yards; seven touchdowns
Year 3 (2019): 12 games; 42 receptions; 552 yards; three touchdowns
Year 4 (2020): 16 games; 97 receptions; 831 yards; nine touchdowns

Antonio Brown
Year 1 (2010): 9 games; 16 receptions; 167 yards; zero touchdowns
Year 2 (2011, PB): 16 games; 69 receptions; 1,108 yards; two touchdowns
Year 3 (2012): 13 games; 66 receptions; 787 yards; five touchdowns
Year 4 (2013, PB): 16 games; 110 receptions; 1,499 yards; eight touchdowns

Mike Wallace
Year 1 (2009): 16 games; 39 receptions; 756 yards; six touchdowns
Year 2 (2010): 16 games; 60 receptions; 1,257 yards; ten touchdowns
Year 3 (2011, PB): 16 games; 72 receptions; 1,193 yards; eight touchdowns
Year 4 (2012): 15 games; 64 receptions; 836 yards; eight touchdowns

Santonio Holmes
Year 1 (2006): 16 games; 49 receptions; 824 yards; two touchdowns
Year 2 (2007): 13 games; 52 receptions; 942 yards; eight touchdowns
Year 3 (2008): 15 games; 55 receptions; 821 yards; five touchdowns
Year 4 (2009): 16 games; 79 receptions; 1,248 yards; five touchdowns

Plaxico Burress
Year 1 (2000): 12 games; 22 receptions; 273 yards; zero touchdowns
Year 2 (2001): 16 games; 66 receptions; 1,008 yards; six touchdowns
Year 3 (2002): 16 games; 78 receptions; 1,325 yards; seven touchdowns
Year 4 (2003): 16 games; 60 receptions; 860 yards; four touchdowns

Antonio Brown and Santonio Holmes had their best season during their fourth year in terms of receiving yards and receptions. Brown re-signed with the Steelers, while Holmes was traded to the Jets for a fifth-round pick. Mike Wallace and Plaxico Burress had a slight decline in production for their fourth year. After their fourth year, Wallace signed a five-year deal worth $60 million to the Dolphins. Burress stayed in Pittsburgh for one more year, but then signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the Giants. 

In Juju Smith-Schuster’s case, he signed a one-year, eight million dollar contract with the Steelers after the 2020 season. His 2021 season was a disappointment because of the injury and lack of production. Juju recently signed with the Chiefs for a one-year worth a maximum of $10.75 million. Diontae Johnson will need to have improved performance for the Steelers to sign him to a long-term deal. The Steelers are still in need of quality wide receivers as Juju, Ray-Ray McCloud, and James Washington have signed elsewhere. Although Diontae Johnson won’t be doing a holdout after prior fears, he is still eager for a new contract.