Week two of Steelers Training Camp at Latrobe was an eventful one, including new deals for two stars as well as some stand out performances.
Diontae Johnson Extension
The Steelers finally struck a deal with their number one receiver after a week and a half of Johnson “holding in” at training camp. The terms of the contract were a bit surprising to many as some thought Johnson would either get a four year extension with top of the position money, or play on the franchise tag. The numbers that were revealed Thursday were much more team friendly than many had forecasted.
After posting top ten numbers at the Wide Receiver position in 2021, Johnson’s new deal has him being paid $36.71 million in total over two years, with the possibility of earning up to $39.5 million after incentives, and 27 million guaranteed. This extension has Diontae Johnson as the 17th highest paid receiver, which is good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap.
The 2021 Pro Bowler has shown consistent improvement year after year despite inconsistent quarterback play. This past season was a bit of a coming out party for Johnson as he broke 1,000 yards and hauled in 107 catches. Johnson was also able to clean up his drop percentage greatly, going from a 13.2 % drop rate in 2020 down to just 3.6% in 2021. This was an issue that many held against Johnson when arguing if he could be a number one receiver for the Steelers or not.
The possibility of better quarterback play and more down the field passing in the future could set up Johnson for a massive payday in 2025 when he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent at the age of 29 years old. Whether it is with the Steelers or another team, Diontae Johnson could be looking at serious money after this deal expires.
For more insight on how Diontae Johnson’s career so far has stacked up to former Steelers receivers, check out this article: Diontae Johnson’s Future As A Steeler
Chris Bowsell Gets Paid
Boswell’s extension was the first bit of contract news that we received during training camp. A cool $23 million dollars across five years is what the two sides agreed to last Tuesday. This deal makes The Boz the second highest paid kicker in the NFL, and deservedly so. When it comes to kickers, Boswell is right up there with Baltimore’s Justin Tucker. IF Tucker is 1A, Chris Boswell is easily 1B.
In his time with Pittsburgh, Chris Boswell has been the most accurate kicker Heinz Field/Acrisure Stadium has ever seen. Kicking into the open end of the stadium has been extremely difficult for kickers since the building opened, but it is no match for The Steelers’ trusty kicker. Boswell is a career 87.4 % on field goals and 90% on kicks from 50 yards plus. In Steelers’ home games alone, he is 102 of 112 (91%).
Minkah Fitzpatrick Returns
Pittsburgh’s All-Pro Free Safety was unable to participate in training camp up until last Thursday to due to a bicycling accident that injured his wrist during a vacation in the offseason. He has since been cleared to return to football activities, and has slowly been seeing more action as his wrist heals.
Fitzpatrick signed a massive four year extension prior to training camp and was ready to hit the bags hard this summer, but unfortunately suffered a minor setback. Luckily, he did not have to miss any significant practice time.
2022 Training Camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers has revealed some potential hidden gems early on at some key positions. One of them being rookie running back Jaylen Warren out of Oklahoma State, who the Steelers picked up in the undrafted free agent market after the draft. The Steelers are badly hurting for some depth at running back, and Warren is making a strong case for that third spot according to reports out of training camp. Warren has displayed exceptional vision, blocking and catching skills early on in camp.
The Pittsburgh Steelers submitted their first official training camp depth chart last week. Listed as one of the starting outside receivers was none other than rookie George Pickens. Pickens is another name that has made headlines over the last couple weeks due to some stellar performances and highlight catches. This should come as no surprise to those who have been following Pickens’ career to this point.
With Diontae Johnson opposite of Pickens, and Chase Claypool in the slot, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has the potential to be lethal this season given some competent quarterback play. The Steelers’ second round pick is full of potential and has made that crystal clear in practice thus far.
Check out my breakdown on George Pickens from earlier this summer here: George Pickens Should Have Steelers Fans Excited