Wednesday , August 17 2022

Pittsburgh Steelers sign hold-in WR Diontae Johnson to contract extension

PITTSBURGH — Diontae Johnson got his deal.

After a weeklong hold-in at the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ training camp, the wide receiver and the team reached a two-year extension that averages $18.355 million per year, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Kimberley Martin.

The deal, worth up to $39.5 million if he reaches incentives, includes $27 million guaranteed. Johnson, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, will become a free agent in 2025.

“It was a relief for me,” Johnson said with a smile Thursday. “Just to be able to get it done, just to get back out there with my brothers is a blessing. I’m happy.”

Johnson said the Steelers offered him the contract Wednesday night, and after praying and talking with his agent, teammates and family, he decided to sign the deal Thursday morning.

The Steelers announced Johnson’s extension on Thursday but did not disclose financial terms. The team called it a three-year contract, including this year with the two-year extension.

Johnson, 26, was the final remaining hold-in of the 2019 wide receiver draft class after Deebo Samuel and DK Metcalf got extensions earlier in training camp. Johnson said Thursday he was prepared to hold-in until Week 1 if the two sides didn’t get a deal done.

“I felt like the time was right,” Johnson said of signing his contract. “I’m ready to get back, get this train going.”

Johnson didn’t get the same type of monster extensions as many of his fellow 2019 receivers — some of whom got deals worth around $25 million a year — but the Steelers receiver wasn’t bitter.

Metcalf and the Seattle Seahawks agreed on a three-year extension worth $72 million last week, while Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers agreed to a three-year extension worth a maximum of $73.5 million on Sunday, sources told Schefter.

“You see the numbers, but I wasn’t trying to look at everybody’s pockets,” Johnson said. “They deserve it. At the end of the day, I can’t control what they got going on. I’m just worried about what I got going on. We were able to come up with something, and I’m happy that we were able to come to the table and get something done.”

Days before agreeing to the extension, general manager Omar Khan reiterated that the team wanted Johnson to remain a Steeler.

“We want Diontae, and we’re excited to have Diontae as part of this team,” Khan said Tuesday. “We hope he’s going to be a Steeler for a long time.”

Johnson, who reported to training camp on time, has been participating in individual drills and working one-on-one with a staffer during team periods. He has gradually participated in more periods with quarterbacks throwing, but he fully returned to practice Thursday.

“He’s a significant piece,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s done a good job of staying connected throughout the process. His train left the station today. I’d imagine it’s not gonna be much of a transition in terms of him getting up to speed. I know he was excited about work today.”

Johnson led the Steelers with 1,161 yards on 107 receptions last season and hauled in eight touchdowns as now-retired quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target.

In signing Johnson to just a two-year extension, the team locks up its top target for the immediate future while retaining long-term flexibility. The shorter deal mirrors a similar approach taken by the team this offseason in signing quarterback Mitch Trubisky, right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and inside linebacker Myles Jack, among others.

“I love being a Steeler,” Johnson said. “I wanna finish my career here … I feel like I made the right choice, and I wanna continue to be here for a long time.”


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